Re: Dear Authorities, This Post Advocates No Actual Violence

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Hoo boy- what's the over on when this thread is shut down?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:11 AM
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Related question -- Does claiming that "Come the revolution, blood will flow in streets like borscht," imply that borscht does now flow in the streets? And given that it doesn't, is the quoted statement merely a cryptic means of reassuring listeners about the peacefulness of the revolution?

Doesn't matter, of course. I'm going to keep saying it anyway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:13 AM
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Christopher Hitchens. That guy who reviews pop music for the New Yorker. John Simon. Anybody who says anything negative about Audrey Hepburn. The publisher of Soldier of Fortune.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:14 AM
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No they never will be missed!


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:15 AM
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Brent Musburgur


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:15 AM
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Insurance industry executives.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:17 AM
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Televangelists.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:18 AM
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2: I think the saying refers to the clotty, coagulated fluid dynamics of blood in the streets.


Posted by: 123 | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:18 AM
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The entire staff of Slate, and everyone who's ever aspired to work for Slate.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:18 AM
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2: I've always assumed that, come the revolution, both blood and borscht will be flowing in the streets--naturally, in serparate channels. I'd assumed that this was more by way of warning, so that if you preferred blood you wouldn't end up with borscht, and vice versa. Especially since it's a little known fact that the quote ends "and a nice rye bread will be available in most localities". They don't say anything about the vodka, though.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:19 AM
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Although maybe that's too violent for them. Grants them too much credibility.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:19 AM
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And maybe Martin Cooper.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:19 AM
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so we'll have to throw a bunch of other lawyers against the wall

This doesn't go quite far enough.


Posted by: Dick the Butcher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:19 AM
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Maybe Yoo was a super secret Chinese spy on deepest cover, sent to undermine the American way of life in the most nefarious, inscrutable way possible. Ming the Merciless for President!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:20 AM
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If anything, ogged actually understates the case against Yoo. He developed some of his most outlandish views on executive power late in his career, when he was being paid by the federal treasury to do so on behalf of the administration. It would be bad enough if all his views were sincerely held, but I'm not even sure *that* is the case.

Somewhat amazingly, his wife is a really sweet person, and liberal.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:20 AM
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Joe Lieberman, of course. I would literally celebrate his death, which would preferably be by some painful, humiliating means. There's only a few people in the world I hate that much.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:21 AM
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I'll show you the life of the mind!


Posted by: Charlie Meadows | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:22 AM
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Clearly, it's important that we create our enemies list now, so that ATR we won't squabble and then have things degenerate into Unfogger-on-Unfogger violence. No Thermidor for us!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:24 AM
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Somewhat amazingly, his wife is a really sweet person, and liberal.

If his wife was that nice she would've stabbed her husband to death for the good of the world by now.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:25 AM
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James Dobson.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:25 AM
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I would literally celebrate his death

OK, I'm checking out of this thread. Bye, y'all.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:26 AM
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Knecht wants to stand in the way of justice for Krauthammer and Yoo. He'll be part of the second wave.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:28 AM
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preferably be by some painful, humiliating means

If Joe Lieberman choked himself to death on a ball gag while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation, I wouldn't exactly shed a tear myself.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:28 AM
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If borscht were a person or could otherwise be stood against a wall and shot, borscht.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:28 AM
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You're too hard to get Michelle Malkin's attention, ogged. It's a little embarrassing.


Posted by: Tarrou | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:31 AM
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In my dream revolution no one is killed.

In any actual revolution I will be hiding in my room if I still have one, and will certainly have no say over whose blood flows.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:31 AM
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...*trying* too hard, that is.


Posted by: Tarrou | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:31 AM
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Really, I'm happier deporting everyone really evil to villas on a nice island someplace. Revenge isn't necessary, I just want them not to be running things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:33 AM
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Well, the precedent of Nuremberg is that the unprovoked War of Aggression is the worst crime against humanity, for reasons probably too long for a blog comment.

Obvious targets left unnamed, because I am just a little careful on the nets for a while.

Also, not involving or implying the death of any groups or individuals, I think America needs to be killed. The nation, the tradition, the link with its history, as Germany & Japan became to an extent new political entities, so America should be forcibly changed to something unrecognizable. Accompanied by total loss of sovereignty and permanent occupation.

Oop, that knock on the door may come anyway.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:34 AM
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26: Well, yes, but way to kill the mood, Captain Bringdown.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:34 AM
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I think Knecht's secret identity has been revealed. I'd have been afraid to tell Hadassah about this blog too.

In my dream revolution no one is killed.

They sure will be in your dream counterrevolution!

I think America needs to be killed.

That's what makes it a revolution, innit?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:37 AM
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29: Not an uncontroversial or apolitical election on the part of the prosecution, Bob, and not without a debatable legacy. I expect it will remain easier to prosecute for human rights violations, up to mass murder/genocide of noncombatants, for many wars to come, particularly as sovereignty is eroded by technology.

Also, your "to an extent " is doing yeoman's work there.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:39 AM
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wtf, did Cheney grow a halo while I was on holiday? What's the debate?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:40 AM
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30: Sorry! I'm leaving now, anyway.

31: See if I let you in my dream!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:40 AM
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Revenge isn't necessary

Third wave for you, LB. (Purging the internal enemies is just about the best part of revolution.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:41 AM
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Jesse Helms. Revolution or no, I am having a party the day that bastard kicks it. And the Late Night Shots people.


Posted by: KJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:43 AM
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did Cheney grow a halo while I was on holiday?

As with Jesse Helms, it will be more satisfying to watch him linger on for decades in increasingly shitty health. I'm pretty sure Helms is either drugged heavily or in physical torment 24/7, and I hope he lives to be 200 to experience every minute of it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:44 AM
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You know, if we really did have a revolution and I were in charge, I wouldn't want to kill anyone in particular beyond whatever blood was shed in the heat of the moment. Yoo and Phil Knight and the various bad, selfish rich people--I'd much rather take away their money and priviledges and make them work in boring, difficult jobs (stocking shelves, say--not even down in a coal mine or as an attendant at some sort of pig shit lagoon, which would otherwise be tempting choices). Just make them live like regular people, even let them benefit from national health care and so on...that would be enough punishment for their overpriviledged, useless selves, I think. Maybe make them work swing shift.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:45 AM
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36, 37: Weird synchronicity, that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:47 AM
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38: Phil Knight? Let us dream bolder than vulgar envy, Frowner.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:49 AM
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I am a liberal through & though: out of power plus trials or, failing that, a truth comission.

Also, the OLC needs to be either seriously reformed or defunded.

Other bad lawyers on detainee issues: David Addington. Alberto Gonzales. Timothy Flanigan. William Haynes. Jay Bybee. Diane Beaver. Robert Delahunty. Paul McNulty. John Bellinger. Stephen Bradbury.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:49 AM
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Some of You People clearly lack the fortitude to do What Is Necessary.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:49 AM
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Cheney and Rumsfeld and Yoo don't go up against the wall. They're not a threat to our fledgling government. They go in the dock for later propaganda coups when we've got things settled down enough to start running trials.

Obviously, the entire upper management of all the news networks will have to be swiftly dealt with. The talent, on the other hand, stays; they will be working for us from now on, the better to reassure the people about the benevolent nature of our new regime and emphasize the continuity of our daily lives. Even O'Reilly can stay, but he will be on a short leash. It's not as if he has any integrity; I trust he will stay away from the topic that his new masters want him to.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:49 AM
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Cheney and Rumsfeld and Yoo don't go up against the wall.

Right, they go directly to the torture rooms.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:51 AM
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31:That's what makes it a revolution, innit?

Perhaps. One could barely imagine a scenario, more possible under a Democratic President with control of the armed forces, in which an ultimatum was issued by the UN, perhaps with a few kilotons of demonstrated seriousness. The multinational forces would be invited in to help pacify the geographical areas of civil unrest. Faced with the inevitable, the resistance might be less than imagined.

Let the fucking black helicopters blot out the sun.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:53 AM
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...[A]n ultimatum was issued by the UN....

And Americans die laughing?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:55 AM
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Let the fucking black helicopters blot out the sun.

Bob, you're really not bringing your best stuff today. Rotator cuff bothering you?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:56 AM
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First against the wall: Richard Mellon Scaife.

Second against the wall: Flippanter, for cavalierly using his powers of summary execution on a music reviewer who's clearly hurting no one.

Third against the wall: me, for cavalierly using my powers of summary execution on Flippanter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:56 AM
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I'm with you on John Yoo. But if he really is put up against the wall, I'll have to come up with another excuse to avoid donating to the UC Berkeley law school.


Posted by: Steve H. | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:57 AM
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I'd like to be on the People's Post-Revolution Clean-Up and Re-organization Committee. I have Thoughts about what comes after the bloodshed. High Speed Rail for everyone!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:58 AM
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Even counting only the history I know, the individual baddies are not the problem, and trials, investigations, commissions are not the solutions.
At least since the Philippines, as far back as St Clair and Mad Anthony Wayne, America has and is a problem.

THe current imperialist will simply be replaced by new imperialist, until imperialism, hegemony, and aggression are materially impossible. Aggression will, for America, always be politically likely until physically impossible.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:59 AM
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The non-vegetarian borscht at Veselka was amazing yesterday. Don't know about the vegetarian kind; people seemed to enjoy it. The nice thing about borscht in America is that people can afford to put actual meat in it, rather than waving a hambone over the pot for flavor. The problem to avoid in American borscht is too much meat. Veselka did it just right.


Posted by: 123 | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:00 AM
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40: You've seen "The Big One" I assume? While MM certainly isn't the filmmaker-with-greatest-veracity-ever, I think that despising Phil Knight is completely appropriate. Power, greed, exploitation and new age, self-justifying bullshit all together...boy, maybe we could make an exception and send him to the canefields. Or a shoe factory! That would be great!

Okay, my new theory is that all these corporate villains will work for the rest of their lives on the assembly line.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:04 AM
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How embarrassing. 123 was me, left over from last week's Day of the Long Knives.

Up against the wall: Ryan Seacrest and the creators of "The Bachelor."


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:04 AM
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Jesus, Bob, move to Canada before your head explodes.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:05 AM
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Jesus. And to think there was actually debate the other day about whether moderates could be comfortable at Unfogged.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:06 AM
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Mano negra got there first. I think that the bad guys who made the biggest difference are in media management, the Republican Party and the conservative think tanks. Yoo was just called in after the real battle was won.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:10 AM
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48: I have no regrets. To die in the knowledge that that New Yorker guy and his I-am-one-funky-white-dude articles shall not survive me is a shining beacon in the darkness that is American magazine criticism.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:12 AM
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The owners and management of the Minnesota Vikings.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:13 AM
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53 - Frowner, I came away from The Big One with more respect for Phil Knight than any of the CEO's that avoided Moore. Seriously. I didn't like the conclusions he came to, but he was (to his regret, presumably) straightforward about the factors that led to using overseas labor and he knew what decisions he made for what reasons. It is a rotten system, but he was explicit about working within it. I like that so much better than CEO's who obscure what they do, or fool themselves that what they're doing isn't really bad.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:14 AM
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"You know why they're called revolutions? Because the same things keep on coming round again." -- Terry Pratchett, Night Watch


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:15 AM
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The Man. And Rousseau.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:17 AM
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60: Well, they'll be working in the canefields too. Canefields for everyone! No, I don't have a lot of patience with people who are all "oooh, the system I support is a rotten one, and I feel the pain of its victims, but even though I am a CEO I am but a humble cog and can make no difference". If you can't take your principles seriously enough to avoid being the CEO of a massive, sweatshop-using, offshoring corporation, that's pretty much the same as having no principles at all.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:19 AM
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So nobody has suggested Ogged himself yet?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:20 AM
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For posterity, I will note that I take "up against the wall" to mean "duly and speedily charged, convicted, and sentenced by tribunal."

But really, I think it should be limited to the war-crimes enablers (Cheney, Yoo, etc.). The various political flacks (Brownie) should just be ostracized from society at large.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:21 AM
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45-
The multinational forces would be invited in to help pacify the geographical areas of civil unrest.
Not yet convinced they exist...oh, wait, the ones in Iraq?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:27 AM
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"Minor Inconvenience To Our Enemies!"
"The People, United, Can Never Be Divided Except for Good Reason After Thoughtful Reflection"
"We Are Using Borscht Because Blood Is Icky"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:27 AM
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Wasn't there some disaster in the early 1900s where a bunch of people drowned when a tower of some kind of food collapsed? Not borscht, I was thinking gruel but I can't find it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:28 AM
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I shouldn't specifically argue Phil Knight, because I don't remember the interview clearly. And yes, using your influence to improve the rotten system is way better. And using whatever talents got you to be a big CEO for something more productive is also way better.

But you can work with the ones like Knight, who will reveal their thinking process and tell you why they made the choices we don't like. They're single-goal oriented (maximize profits for shareholders), but not evil. They'd be just as happy to work just as hard for other goals. I'd slate them for Re-education after the revolution, not cleansing.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:29 AM
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68: the great Molasses flood, perhaps?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:30 AM
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soccer moms and most of the dudes who do coke.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:32 AM
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War crimes worked in Germany & Japan because the occupation and loss of sovereignty forced indicual citizens to confront their complicity. Commissions worked in South Africa because of the obvious structural & social changes.

Trials and punishments don't really work as deterence in individual criminal matters because crimes of violence are not usually carefully considered cost/benefit calculations. Neither are wars of aggression or crimes against humanity rational acts. Pol Pot was not deterred by Nuremberg. In the case of the American War Criminals the cost of justice is so obviously difficult in execution that the wager is quite rational, and one generation of trials will not deter. I would like anyone to try to point the WH to the gallows without foreign occupation.

OTOH, partial loss of sovereignty and occupation needn't be so painful for the occupied, certainly nowhere near as onerous as the analogous measures needed to prevent individuals from committing crimes. America would be improved by a lack of a military in every way. A great example and leadership to a post-national world could be demonstrated.

I read Jonathan Schell 20+ years ago. We will have a world without nations, one way or the other. It is a stark choice as to how we get there.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:33 AM
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soccer moms?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:33 AM
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56: And to think there was actually debate the other day about whether moderates could be comfortable at Unfogged.

Riffing on Douglas Adams is clearly extremist humour. Next thing you know, the Politburo will be approving Margaret Cho routines, the wearing of Che Guevara t-shirts, the open use of stilts and puppetry in the streets... who knows where this madness will end!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:33 AM
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That's it, molasses. The blood will flow in the streets like molasses- but that makes it sound like the revolution will go very slowly.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:33 AM
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74: Margaret Cho puppets on stilts wearing Che t-shirts, perhaps.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:35 AM
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Bob is totally right, of course, which is why he rankles so often. Over the past seven years liberals have treated George Bush as though his policies were sui generis, but all of the worst excesses of this administration have only been the logical extension of a post-WWII bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, executive power, and the role of America in the world. That consensus assumes that America must maintain a dominant role on the world stage, that America's highest priority within that role is to maintain that dominance, and that the main tool with which to maintain and expand that dominance is military power. To put it simply, America is an imperial project and has been an imperial project since its inception. This is why the Democratic top tier refuses to promise to withdraw from Iraq: fully ending the war means conceding defeat, and an empire can't afford to go limping back home beaten and humiliated. And withdrawal from Afghanistan is so unthinkable it can't even be discussed on respectable liberal blogs.

There's no revolution coming, of course, and there isn't going to be any sea change away from imperial foreign policy either. America has been in permanent war mode since the 1940s, and the only thing that could possibly change that would be if we simply couldn't afford it anymore.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:35 AM
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69: Never saw The Big One, nor do I know the details of Knight's perfidy, but I think Megan is right (if I am understanding her correctly) to suggest that when the system is corrupt, you are going to find some not-so-bad people who fit well into the system.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:36 AM
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64: I was going to, but now it seems pointless.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:36 AM
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76: Gahhhh!

We must pull back from the brink, comrades. Quick, someone do an imitation of the Chris Rock "black people vs. niggas" routine!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:38 AM
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War crimes worked in Germany & Japan because the occupation and loss of sovereignty forced indicual [sic] citizens to confront their complicity...

This is a joke, right?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:38 AM
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fully ending the war means conceding defeat, and an empire can't afford to go limping back home beaten and humiliated.

Who'da thunk it: stras and Jonah Goldberg achieve comity !

Even conceding the Imperial Impulse, as described by stras, I would argue that there are considerably smarter ways to run an empire.

To get back to the original topic, it seems we ought to be able to find a place against the wall for Jonah and his ilk.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:41 AM
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81:No. Whatever was taught in the schools, Japan was not allowed to have an aircraft carrier(?) or nukes, and had American troops on its soil. Those objective facts countered any comforting delusions.

Most of us may have forgotten, but the South is quite aware that Federal Marshalls monitor their elections. They don't like it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:43 AM
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74: Come on. I was just wished death for expressing my discomfort with wishing people dead. That's supposed to be awesome?


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:43 AM
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Can't we mostly use the already dead people for this? Like Dick Cheney.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:45 AM
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84: keep unfogged safe for the utterly humorless!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:46 AM
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84: You shoulda seen this place before the new open-mindedness policy was instituted. I used to assume that when a controversial pseud disappeared, it wasn't just the comments that got eliminated, IYKWIM.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:48 AM
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84: And here I was going to rag on Ogged for making the post title a disclaimer.

We believe in nothing, Rousseau. Nothing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:50 AM
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Rewind to 56, Rousseau; my death wishes are typically innocent wordplay. Slack, however, should be terminated with extreme prejudice.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:55 AM
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The joke will be on us when the first act of the revolution is to destroy all walls.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:56 AM
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Slack is Hard to Kill, and Above the Law. His enemies, however, are Marked for Death and will soon be Under Siege.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:56 AM
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91: lately, though, your Exit Wounds and Dark Territories have been Pistol Whipped until you feel Half Past Dead.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:58 AM
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91: A friend of a friend was a waiter in a restaurant where Steven Segal used to go for lunch often. The waiter would amuse himself endlessly with variations on "Steven Segal is... Out to Lunch," or "Steven Segal's bald spot is... Hard to Hide."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:59 AM
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Slack has been On The List for at least a week. The Revolution eats its own.

Mmmmmm... barbequed revolutionary.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:59 AM
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They're single-goal oriented (maximize profits for shareholders), but not evil.

Ah, here's where we differ. I think that having as your single goal maximizing profits for shareholders is evil. Almost the central evil, in fact. And the eeeeeevilest thing about "evil" is that you don't actually need to be a monster to perpetuate it. If the problem were people who sat around every day and told themselves "ah hah, in order to hang onto power, I will trample on ordinary folks and take away their healthcare/ cheat them out of their pension funds/ let them be shot by Blackwater"...why, that would hardly be a problem at all. No, the problem is that people sit around and tell themselves, "well, after I write that check to the library fund for my annual donation, I need to have a meeting about hiring more part-timers because we just can't afford insurance any more, and then I'd better make a doctor's appointment using my excellent executive insurance for my son because I am a good, generous parent who takes care of my family". More or less like Phil Knight--people who cling to cognitive dissonance in order to hold onto their priviledges.

Those people are lucky that I am a principled radical, because every time I think about them, I think about how satisfying it would be to beat some sense into them with a knout, prior to sending them to their labors in the canefields.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:01 PM
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Jesus. And to think there was actually debate the other day about whether moderates could be comfortable ignored at Unfogged.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:02 PM
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93: Love it. Also, Seagal's music and fake Cajun accent are... Hard to Endure.

You just stay away from my Dark Territories, Sifu, 'less you want to experience a Fire Down Below.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:02 PM
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95 gets it right. The concept of a "corporation" is, by definition, indifferent to whether humans live or die, and probably biased toward destroying anything it encounters out of an interest in prevailing in zero-sum interactions. That's evil.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:02 PM
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These death wishes brought to you by The Very Reasonable and Articulate Society for Reasonable Moderation.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:04 PM
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This is a joke, right?

I would recommend that instead of saying things like this, we give examples of why we believe the statement we're responding to is erroneous. This is another aim of my anti-condescension policy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:04 PM
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89: Thanks for saying that. I had assumed that since I had so ostentatiously brought the unfunny, you had responded in kind.

Anyway! Let me try again, with added earnestness: Even as a reliable Democrat, one-time community organizer, and liberal activist lawyer, threads like this make me feel sad and unwelcome.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:05 PM
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77:"if we simply couldn't afford it anymore."

Fuck I can't ever remember his name, early 20th century Amercan anarchist:War is the health of the state ...Henly & Thoreau & Mona are becoming indispensable. Silber has become Jeremiah.

Could go back to Thucydides' archaeology of the city-state, its origin not in defense but in surplus-expansion-frontier increase in productivity-vulnerability-militarization-repeat.

Europe maybe has found an answer in the end of expansion, in the limiting of surplus and the goal of ZPG and flat GDP. A "Limits to Growth" politics might be a more plausible path to peace than trans-nationalism.

I can be a pedantic fuck. There is really only one person in the world I have enough personal animosity towards I wish dead or suffering, and I dare not speak his name. The rest is historical materialism or something.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:05 PM
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95, 98: We reveal our own predilictions when we assign moral valences to morally-neutral entities.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:06 PM
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Economic growth is also destructive of the environment, by definition.

George Monbiot


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:07 PM
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Fuck I can't ever remember his name

Randolph Bourne.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:08 PM
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Randolph Bourne, Bob.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:08 PM
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101: may I introduce you to my philosophy of "Assume Everything Said On The Internet And Especially Unfogged Is Meant Lightheartedly, All The Time"? It really does wonders at staving off those pending-bloody-strife blues.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:08 PM
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We reveal our own predilictions when we assign moral valences to morally-neutral entities.

What's a "valence"?

What does "morally neutral" mean? Doesn't everyone and everything act in its own self-interest? Does the word "evil" have no literal meaning or no corresponding to anything that exists in reality?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:08 PM
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Even as a reliable Democrat, one-time community organizer, and liberal activist lawyer, threads like this make me feel sad and unwelcome.What do you mean?
Can you tell us why?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:09 PM
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If borscht were a person or could otherwise be stood against a wall and shot, borscht.

Flippanter for Generalissimo! Let me add to the list Lee Siegel, Peyton Manning's agent, and every agent of the copy/industrial complex that is FedEx-Kinko's, down to the last part-time employee.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:10 PM
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101: You said "lawyer," Rousseau. You shouldn't ought to have gone and said that.

Since I can see that Emerson has noticed that I haven't yet proposed someone to go up against the wall: I hereby propose John Emerson, for having cravenly backed away from his bold and correct "Harry Potter fans are crack babies" stance, and also those allies of Emersonism who have failed to speak up against this counterrevolutionary outrage. Since they have no relationships, it shouldn't be hard to isolate and eliminate them.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:11 PM
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This is one of the times when I agree with Stras and Bob.

The libertarians have split into the ones I hate more than ever (the Pinochet libertarians) and the ones who I have to concede might be right.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:11 PM
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"Trials and punishments don't really work as deterence in individual criminal matters because crimes of violence are not usually carefully considered cost/benefit calculations. "

The function is at least as much moral-condemnation-with-teeth-in-it as individual cost-benefit calculations. But no, of course one generation of trials won't forever deter all future criminals. Of course the human rights movement has noticeably NOT succeeded in stopping atrocitites. But it has a better track record in reducing them, & not creating new waves of them, than wars, occupations & revolutions.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:11 PM
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104: I wonder about that. Obviously it is now, but is it possible to create a growth-based economy that's not linked to physical resource consumption? I still can't figure that for sure.

If anybody wants me to go read anything about this I totally will.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:12 PM
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Peyton Manning's agent

Because of the number and variety of ads Manning shows up in?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:13 PM
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95, 98 - I am totally on-board for changing the legal definition of corporation and changing the legal duties of corporations to maximize profits and for imposing a new single-goal for them. Right with you.

But I'm an engineer. I can't hate a system for doing what it is designed to do. You want it to do something different, you change the pressures and stressors.

I don't mean to let all CEO's off the hook. In Michael Moore's movie, I hated the other CEO's more than Knight, for obscuring what they do from the watchers and I think probably from themselves as well. I only give Knight credit for his relative transparency and not shrinking from what his decisions mean. I hold the truly venal ones in their own class.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:13 PM
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Even as a reliable Democrat, one-time community organizer, and liberal activist lawyer, threads like this make me feel sad and unwelcome.

Presume, then, that by "against the wall" we're merely referring to a particularly weighted and nasty game of wall ball.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:14 PM
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Oh, yeah. Scott Boras.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:15 PM
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Instead of putting anyone up against a wall, we could process them for their nutritional value. Soylent Green for Somalia, where people are starving.

On a personal note, for walling: My middle school maths teacher, who kept telling me that it was OK that girls were bad at mathematics. This despite the fact that I was a straight A student. Who later scored 800 on the Math II SAT. It didn't occur to me until years later that I was, in fact, just fine at all that number stuff with the >94: And instead of putting anyone up against a wall, we could process them for their nutritional value. Soylent Green for Somalia, where people are starving.

On a personal note, for walling: My middle school maths teacher, who kept telling me that it was OK that girls were bad at mathematics. This despite the fact that I was a straight A student. Who later scored 800 on the Math II SAT. It didn't occur to me until years later that I was, in fact, just fine at all that number stuff with the =+ and other thingamajigs. [Oddly enough, said teacher was female. It was far easier to discount the high school bio teacher who said girls couldn't get A's in science because they didn't have rational minds. Especially after the only people who ever threw up during a dissection were male.]


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:15 PM
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Who'da thunk it: stras and Jonah Goldberg achieve comity !

Should I even bother responding to this? Goldberg - and Clinton and Obama and Edwards to varying degrees - each look at the occupation and decide that it needs to continue, because otherwise X, with X being some consequence which is bad for the empire (because the terrorists will laugh at us, because we will not be able to Protect Our Interests In The Region, etc.). Because there exists a bipartisan consensus that America's chief foreign policy goal is to maintain America's dominance on the world stage, and because pundits and politicians from both parties fear that ending the occupation will weaken that dominance, there is a strong, bipartisan desire among the professional political class to continue the Iraq War - a desire which is directly connected to the desire to protect and preserve the American empire. Even pro-withdrawal mainstream pundits, like Matt Yglesias, seem to endorse withdrawal in part because they think withdrawal will do less damage, or at least no more damage, to the cause of American empire than maintaining the occupation will. I, on the other hand, believe that both the continuation of the occupation and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan would weaken American power, but I don't think that matters - the important thing is that right now America is killing a lot of people that otherwise wouldn't be killed, and calculations as to how big the national dick will be once the war is over are grotesque in the extreme.

Where, from that, do you get "I endorse Jonah Goldberg's foreign policy views," other than through a transparently bad-faith reading of what I wrote?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:16 PM
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111. I ain't afraid of your idle threats, Slack. But note that I have decided that Harry Potter fans are crack babies after all. I was just trying to ingratiate myself to the book-buying public when I took it back.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:16 PM
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When the revolution comes and blood flows in streets like borscht, who would I put first against the wall? Beets me?


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:17 PM
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107: That comes with an "Except About The Patriarchy" proviso, doesn't it?

But you're right, I should have just read your 48 and then shut up.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:17 PM
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HTF did my last paragraph double itself???


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:19 PM
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We reveal our own predilections when we assign moral valences to create morally-neutral entities.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:20 PM
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Even as a reliable Democrat, one-time community organizer, and liberal activist lawyer, threads like this make me feel sad and unwelcome.

Like any person wearing even one of those hats would be comfortable executing traitors to the revolution.

C'mon.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:21 PM
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there exists a bipartisan consensus that America's chief foreign policy goal is to maintain America's dominance on the world stage

Do depressing and so true. I was talking to a friend the other day, a solidly liberal guy who was opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning but who I only just recently talked out of the "we can't withdraw now that we've created such a mess" corner. And depressingly enough, he has now totally bought in to the notion that America simply cannot allow Musharraf to lose power. Because, y'know, then "terrorists" would have nuclear weapons. And also because propping up dictators in countries that we don't even begin to understand has always worked out so well for us in the past.

And then I understood how we have ended up at this historical juncture with so little domestic uproar.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:23 PM
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HTF did my last paragraph double itself???

Guess that maths teacher wasn't so off-base, now, was he?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:23 PM
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Like any person wearing even one of those hats would be comfortable executing traitors to the revolution. here.


Posted by: als | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:24 PM
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And then I understood how we have ended up at this historical juncture with so little domestic uproar.

People are idiots again, yah?

I'm with you on that one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:24 PM
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126: well, if the traitors were fetuses...


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:25 PM
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The entire Bilderberg roster has got to go.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:25 PM
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Oh, so this wall is uterine?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:26 PM
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People are idiots again, yah?

That's just it, though. This guy honestly isn't an idiot. But Noam Chomsky is right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:27 PM
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I deny the "people are idiots" theory. Bush gets a lot of support from bigtime people, especially in the media, and the media people befuddle people whose main stupidity is trusting what they see on TV.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:28 PM
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Peter Angelos, owner of the once great Baltimore Orioles. And a lawyer to boot.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:28 PM
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109: Well, the first thing that hit me was the consensus against Yoo. I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy: the forced reasoning-out and documentation of decisions of power. I think that the legal basis for it is actually tenable, though distasteful, but them's the breaks: now we have to actually engage. I think that the person who's at fault is the President who reads the document uncritically and doesn't have someone else write a memo from the opposite direction. And I think the attempts at censorship and protest of Yoo by Boalt students were thoroughly counterproductive, and ultimately hampered a rational critical response to his argument on the law.

But then it just seems like everyone's, "oh, he's Evil, innit he!" and I'll get run out on a rail.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:29 PM
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131 made me laff. Back to the swimming thread...


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:29 PM
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main stupidity is trusting what they see on TV

Exactly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:31 PM
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117, 126: Let's heal the world with huuuuugs!


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:31 PM
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I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy

skajblakjbkjlv


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:31 PM
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134: yeah, I was being glib. The Elite Consensus can be a fiendish thing to fight off.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:31 PM
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I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy: the forced reasoning-out and documentation of decisions of power.

Does this basically mean: Yoo's memos were laudable because they were written on paper?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:34 PM
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Rousseau definitely should be against the wall. I thought that he was protesting murderous incivility, but actually it's just that he's not bothered by Yoo. Off with you, Rousseau!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:36 PM
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I hope, Flippanter, that moral responsibility doesn't end up existing only for the poor, petty thieves, and so on--I mean, if we're letting the comfortable and educated off the hook of responsibility for their actions, I assume that we aren't going to blame the desperate and ignorant.

The thing is, it doesn't make much sense to want people to suffer substantially "after the revolution", any more than it makes sense to allow them into exile with a fat bank account. The question is how to create a stable, reasonably just system that Evil Selfish Rich Bastards can't disrupt, so you don't exactly want them being all martyred, but you don't want them to have resources to foment counter-revolution either.

What we need on the left are some non-electoral victories--that is, we need good things to happen that aren't just electing a bunch of democrats. (Something only loosely definable as a good thing) Victories give people a taste for victory. We need a good campaign for some kind of health care, or a successful fight on a labor issue, something that will involve what you might call semi-activists--the sort of people who are a bit interested in stuff like that, interested enough to get involved in a casual way. It's no use starting with "get everyone involved" (for all kinds of reasons) , but some action that draws more than just the usual suspects. Honestly, if you ever wonder why gummint and large institutions really, truly crush small reform movements (and the recent strike here is a case in point) it's because they don't want regular people to think of themselves as political actors.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:37 PM
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I think that the legal basis for it is actually tenable, though distasteful, but them's the breaks: now we have to actually engage.

Huh. I'm surprised by your assessment of the legal basis of the Yoo memos as tenable. I'll probably go and reread them now, because my recollection of the arguments isn't that sharp, but I'd be interested in your thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:39 PM
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141: As opposed to them torturing people without justifying themselves and creating a record for the prosecution that may follow.

143: Basically. But also, I think the memo isn't bad, insofar as it points out the problems with the International Law regime. "Here are our loopholes, Mr. President." He's probably not wrong. The problem is that we have a President who didn't say, okay, but let's take the high road anyway.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:39 PM
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137: I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy: the forced reasoning-out and documentation of decisions of power.

1. I'm puzzled as to what identifies this as "the kind of thing we want in a democracy." It's not uncommon for non-democratic states to reason out and document decisions of power, is it?

2. Why do you feel that Yoo's memo has a tenable legal basis?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:40 PM
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144: Nooo! Also protesting murderous incivility! Also that. Promise!


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:40 PM
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148.1 Just because non-democratic states sometimes do it doesn't mean that we shouldn't also always do it.

148.2 My recollection isn't fresh, but I believe the problem is something like the treaty was enacted with terms that govern old conceptions of warfare but that make little sense today due to the lack of formal state involvement. The realist response is that the GC is meant to cover stuff not contemplated by its terms; the formalist response is that terms are terms. IIRC, Yoo went with the latter, which is, at least, tenable.

I do sure hate formalism, though.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:45 PM
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Funniest thing about this thread: I was reading "Rousseau," but thinking "Robespierre."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:46 PM
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Yeah, definitely, one of the wekanesses of the US before Yoo came along was that we hadn't looked closely at the legal rationales for torture. That was an enormous gap in our moral compass or our social capital or our ethical foundation or some shit like that, and it's really a good thing that Yoo came along to fill that gap. Good work, Yoo!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:46 PM
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Honestly, if you ever wonder why gummint and large institutions really, truly crush small reform movements (and the recent strike here is a case in point) it's because they don't want regular people to think of themselves as political actors.

Dude, I don't want people to think of themselves as political actors. People are stupid.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:47 PM
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137: the reasoning is not tenable. Do you want the details? And the only reason it's public is because it was leaked. It was written in secret, intended to be kept secret indefinitely, & most of the related memos are still secret.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:48 PM
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Rousseau, you're fucking loony in a very unpleasant way. Seriously, go away and waterboard someone.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:49 PM
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150: your recollection is not even close to accurate. You seem to be talking about an entirely different memo from Yoo's famous "torture memo", which is not about the Geneva Conventions at all but about the U.S. statute criminalizing torture. Yoo's memo, among other things: (1) tried to define the crime of torture out of existence based on an unrelated medical benefits' statutes definition of an "emergency medical condition"; (2) argued that criminalizing torture in wartime was unconstitutional, without citing three directly relevant clauses of the constitution or the leading Supreme Court case on the scope of the Commander in Chief Power.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:51 PM
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Meh- justice is not as good a motivator as revenge or greed. The revolution fails, meet the new boss, same as the old boss, but this time, with irony!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:51 PM
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102: There is really only one person in the world I have enough personal animosity towards I wish dead or suffering, and I dare not speak his name.

Really, go ahead and say it. I have bigger fish to fry.


Posted by: Voldemort | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:54 PM
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120: Stras, I'm surprised to see you object to the Jonah Goldberg comity line. It's often been the case that radicals and reactionaries both see things much less obscured than the mainstream. Both you and Jonah believe that defeat could lead to a loss of empire; where you differ is on how good that would be for the world. Center-right to center-left commentators, on the other hand, tend to dismiss the idea that there's any empire to protect or harm, and just see it as a Very Sticky Situation.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:58 PM
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I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy: the forced reasoning-out and documentation of decisions of power.

I was silently rooting for Rousseau there for a while, due to my extensively documented distaste for conversations about doing violence to political opponents, be those conversations in jest or not.

But I'm getting off his boat now. The production of tendentious, laughably novel legal opinions to justify human rights violations is not democracy, but the mockery thereof, just as kangaroo courts are a mockery of justice: it's not even the tribute that vice pays to virtue. The Law for Emergency Defense of the State was also drafted by lawyers and documented in writing, and it stood over the corpse of Weimar democracy like a tombstone.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:58 PM
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Godwin's Law violation in 160 cheerfully acknowledged. I throw myself at the tender mercies of the court.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:59 PM
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Chets and libertarians.

Also Yoyo, for his slam against soccer moms, and Frowner, for believing that individuals can and should transcend their historical circumstances, which makes her suspiciously libertarianish.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:00 PM
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162: How does social change come about then, Karl? Is the proletariat the world-historical class, or what?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:01 PM
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Frowner, for believing that individuals can and should transcend their historical circumstances...

??


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:02 PM
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Oh, and with all this hate for Yoo, what about Gonzales? The incompetently evil are, if anything, even more irritating than the true masterminds.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:02 PM
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Anyone who utters, or causes the utterance of:

"If it saved/saves just one life it was/will be worth it" and "We are all guilty".


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:03 PM
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Gonzales was somebody's list.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:04 PM
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The proletariat is a fiction, created by the robber barons to keep the proletariat unified in their privation! The proletariat must band together to throw off the yoke of false collectivism! Workers of the world, rise as one and embrace the doctrine of zero-sum individualism!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:04 PM
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"on"


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:04 PM
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162: Meet you at the cemetary gates, eh, Yoyo? In later years, Frownerist tourists will make the wall against which I am shot into a kind of shrine. Of course, by that time every town will have a Frowner Avenue/Boulevard/Way/Plaza/Square.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:04 PM
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143: Does this basically mean: Yoo's memos were laudable because they were written on paper?

155: Rousseau, you're fucking loony in a very unpleasant way. Seriously, go away and waterboard someone.

People, did we learn nothing from the Great Soul Searching of Ought Seven?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:06 PM
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163: I'm not sure, and probably yes. I suspect social change is in large part a reaction to environmental changes: technology, climate, mass emigration, etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:06 PM
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161: Godwin's Law confirmation, actually. It's predictive, not proscriptive.

Yes, I pass the geek test.

I used to want Genl. Barry McCaffrey to go up against the wall, for all the drug war stuff. Now I'd just be happy to see a reasonable war crimes tribunal.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:06 PM
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Others have preempted what I would have said about documentation and legality. I'll just point out to Rousseau: one of the reasons that the accusation of "political narrowness" in the meta-threads never bothered me is that it's simply the nature of current politics that a lot of the big questions of the day (war and torture especially) aren't well-suited to political centrism or polite, moderate discussion. I think a lot of people who haven't adjusted to that fact, and would like to see political conversation continue as before, are taken aback by this... but it's not an easy thing to get around.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:06 PM
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171 isn't meant to imply that I agree with Rousseau, of course. I think Yoo is nauseatingly evil.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:08 PM
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How long before there are schisms among the Frownerite's? How bitterly they will attack one another!


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:08 PM
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I agree that it's rarely useful to say "X is just like Hitler!!!!!" but the idea that all discussions of German history from 1933-1945 is out-of-bounds for civil political discussion is weird & pernicious.
If Germany actually used the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" to describe torture techniques, it's relevant to the discussion. If the Khmer Rouge waterboarded people & we called it torture then, it's relevant. If the expert consensus is that thanks to the OLC memos we can't ever try the CIA agents who tortured people, we should ask whether we want the Nuremburg defense to work under U.S. law. etc.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:13 PM
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156: Yeah, I was thinking of the January one. I just looked back, and the torture definition one is pretty much the same deal. Strict readings of statutes and obligations coupled with favorable definitions of sparsely-defined terms.

Maybe the word I should have used is "colorable." Just because you hate a viewpoint doesn't mean the arguments in its favor can't be made in a way that's supported under law. There's plenty in law that's just one hair shy of sophistry, but one hair is all it takes to stay legal. That's why the law is a pain in the ass.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:13 PM
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176: Well, I see them as more similar to the various UK Trotskiest organizations than anything else, so the way it will go is this: I'll be shot, there will be a revolution, the revolutionaries will attempt to claim my rich legacy of thought and writing, various streets will be named after me, the counterrevolution or possibly the Terror will occur and the whole thing will collapse, and I will be invoked by political organizations small and large, effective and in-, in order to justify their wildly differing approaches. So yes, there will be lots of squabbling, but nothing worse than a few fistfights down t'pub.

Sort of a fusion of Trotsky and the Paris Commune, that's how it'll be. Those of you lucky enough to know me in real life should be making notes so that you can sell your memoirs later.

172: I don't think this makes me libertarian so much as it makes you determinist. Which, if that's how you roll, ok...


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:14 PM
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MRH: I explicitly did not endorse the kinder, gentler Unfogged, and I believe that ther was no consensus. There's no reason for us to put ourself in the position of hearing more of Rousseau's stuff.

163: Frowner, B reched into her opinion barrel and that was the one ready to hand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:14 PM
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I take the time to read the memo, and in the meantime the thread gets Godwin'ed? Crap.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:15 PM
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178: bullshit. Not colorable. If you have a specific defense of the specific arguments, make them.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:15 PM
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Even pro-withdrawal mainstream pundits, like Matt Yglesias, seem to endorse withdrawal in part because they think withdrawal will do less damage, or at least no more damage, to the cause of American empire than maintaining the occupation will.

This was the only point I was making - that one can still be pro-empire and pro-withdrawal, despite what folks like Goldberg say (and despite what you said above).

The invasion of Iraq was not the inevitable consequence of the U.S.'s imperial tendencies, and I think policy choices of George W. Bush really are, in many senses, sui generis. I think your argument gives short shrift to the very real - indeed absolutely vital - differences between people like Yglesias and, say, Ledeen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:15 PM
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If you have a specific defense of the specific arguments, make them.

...and we'll read them with an open mind and provide constructive feedback!


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:20 PM
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Trotskiest organizations

They all think they're the Trotskiest, but there's always somebody who's Trotskier.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:20 PM
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177: In this case, "X is just like Carl Schmitt" seems a little closer to the X-ring, though flattering to Yoo.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:20 PM
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Addington, Cheney, and Yoo, of course. Giuliani, Tancredo, Dobson, Delay. Limbaugh and Hewitt.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:21 PM
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Seriously, Rousseau, anyone who constructed Yoo's argument would be a bad guy. He knew he wasn't being a devil's advocate or working up a case study for a mock trial. He was enabling torture.

My previous statement stands, though. Your blind spot is too blatant for me to want you around. Of course, I'm not the boss of here, but you have my opinion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:23 PM
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Grover Norquist. Not shot against the wall, of course, but drowned in a bathtub.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:23 PM
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I am not just making claims that Yoo's viewpoint is immoral. I am making specific legal claims & you are responding with inane platitudes about the law's indeterminancy. Yes, well. Sometimes it's indeterminate, and sometimes it isn't, and there are basic professional standards of competent legal analysis that Yoo's memo doesn't meet. For instance, if you are going to argue that a law outlawing torture is unconstitutional & outside of Congress's powers & encroaches on the Commander In Chief Power, you should perhaps at least MENTION that Congress has the power to make the rules governing captures on the land & water; make laws regulating the Armed Forces; & defining and punishing offenses against the law of nations. You should also mention the leading Supreme Court case on the Commander-in-Chief powers.

Also, the legal basis for defining torture as only involving "the level [of pain] that would ordinarily be associated with a sufficiently serious physical condition or injury such as death, organ failure,or serious impairment of body functions" is nonexistent, as explained here.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:24 PM
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Where, from that, do you get "I endorse Jonah Goldberg's foreign policy views," other than through a transparently bad-faith reading of what I wrote?

I'd argue, by they way, that good faith is demonstrated by using a direct quote, which I did. Failure to use a quote at all can imply either good faith or bad faith, depending.

But when you fabricate a quote out of whole cloth, distorting the original intent, that's bad faith.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:27 PM
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People, did we learn nothing from the Great Soul Searching of Ought Seven?

I believe I skipped most of the soul-searching threads, but if the conclusion was that Unfogged should turn into a daintier version of Obsidian Wings, I vote for a return to snarky piling-on of loony outsiders.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:27 PM
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188: John, don't shoo the mouse out the house until the Kat's done playing. This is an impressive evisceration.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:28 PM
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Frowner - how does your face look on a t-shirt?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:29 PM
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Rousseau, if Yoo had been engaged in an academic exercise to shore up loopholes in our laws against torture, then maybe we'd all thank him, but you can't pretend that what he was actually doing wasn't tendentiously and just-barely-plausibly putting together a rationale for legal torture.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:30 PM
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182: I don't why you (or Emerson, or whoever) keep acting like we disagree on the end result. Although I guess that's what I was afraid of in the first place.

Anyway, let me just say what I mean by colorable, and then I'm going to go back to work. I mean that if these arguments were in a brief presented to me when I was clerking, I would have thrown the thing across the room four times, have covered it in red pen notations such as "bullshit!", have set it aside for a week just so I could cool down . . . but never for a second would have contemplated Rule 11.

I often don't like what our law accommodates, but that's why we need good people in the political process.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:31 PM
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Maybe the word I should have used is "colorable." Just because you hate a viewpoint doesn't mean the arguments in its favor can't be made in a way that's supported under law. There's plenty in law that's just one hair shy of sophistry, but one hair is all it takes to stay legal. That's why the law is a pain in the ass.

In the dim, dark, dank recess of my mind lives the following recollection:

1. Lots and lots of people who are Union-sympathetic think that the Confederates had substantially more than a colorable argument for secession.

2. The govt. specifically decided not to address that argument by Constitutional amendment because Lincoln and his party claimed it wasn't necessary.

So, as I understand it, the language for the more-than-colorable case for secession remain available. Yet no one--I hope--thinks it would be anything but treason if GWB were to lead a secession from the Union. Why? Because we spent a gawd awful amount of blood, treasure, and national fabric enforcing the norm that such an interpretation was unavailable. It's not clear to me why a government sanctioned bounce-testing of the Yoo from the top of the Washington Monument* would function differently.

* Unlike "the wall," this is a punishment that fits America: patriotic and compassionate. If he survives, he walks entirely.

Also, bob needs to either increase his meds or decrease them. Which, I leave as an exercise.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:32 PM
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194: Once you take out all the details, quite good, actually. Just put my picture through the "posterize" function on Photoshop and it'll look fine, I promise. I'm particularly looking forward to the various marketing tie-ins, although that will have to wait a bit, I expect.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:32 PM
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I take the time to read the memo, and in the meantime the thread gets Godwin'ed? Crap.

To be sure, Rousseau, I was not accusing you of sympathy with the Nazis. However, as Katherine points out in 177, sometimes historical parallels have a lot to teach us, and the fact that the Nazi comparisons are rhetorically taboo should not prevent us from examining the mechanics of Nazi rule.

One of the ways that an essentially radical political faction (the NSDAP) was able to rule in the name of a mostly conservative social basis was to co-opt and corrupt the institutions of state and society that conservatives respected. Dressing up perversions of justice in the clothing of judicial means was essential to this process of co-optation and corruption.

Hence, my argument that guys like Yoo having produced written legal memoranda justifying torture is not a mitigating factor, but an aggravating circumstance in this administration's crimes.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:32 PM
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I often don't like what our law accommodates, but that's why we need good people in the political process.

I thought that was the point of the checks and balances of the Constitution, in that one could never count on there being enough good people. Better line up Pelosi and Reid, since there hasn't been an impeachment yet.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:34 PM
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196: Maybe when you come back, you can provide some of that specific reasoning Katherine asked about. Right now her charge of vague platitudes is correct.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:37 PM
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Anyway, let me just say what I mean by colorable, and then I'm going to go back to work. I mean that if these arguments were in a brief presented to me when I was clerking, I would have thrown the thing across the room four times, have covered it in red pen notations such as "bullshit!", have set it aside for a week just so I could cool down . . . but never for a second would have contemplated Rule 11.

That's a funny use of colorable, then, 'Colorable', to me (and this is why I got stiff with you instantly, and have been muttering "Yeah, get him" to Katherine's posts, means "Could be wrong, but really isn't bullshit; something that's not going to piss off the judge." In a less fraught connection, you'd say it "passes the giggle test." By that standard, if you're moved to write "Bullshit" on it in red pen, it's not colorable.

But there's room between colorable and sanctionable -- you're not going to get sanctioned for even a nonsensical argument, generally, if the manner in which it's presented is non-deceptive and you're not wasting the courts' time. If colorable, to you, means patent bullshit written competently by a reasonably competent lawyer, then it's colorable -- I just misunderstood the sense in which you were using the word.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:37 PM
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If he survives, he walks

I'd wager not.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:40 PM
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Maybe instead of firing squad, we could leave 'em in the stocks for a week or so. Spectators could throw fruit or curse at them from ten feet away. Then prison for life.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:41 PM
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Ogged, I don't concede even barely plausible. At best, it's designed to SOUND plausible, & to say, "well, Yoo's an eminent constitutional law scholar, & he cites to stuff, & it kind of sounds like legal analysis; obviouisly the experts disagree." But that's not the same thing. And of course, it's also designed to remain secret.

I could appeal to authority & quote a bunch of professors about how crappy it was, including some conservatives--Jack Goldsmith, etc. But I don't want to do that because then if you can find some federalist society shill to defend it you've got yourself a battle of the experts. It's possible to make a legally colorable defense of grossly immoral policies--the administration has done it sometimes--but Yoo's OLC memo on torture is not an example of this.

Apart from the legal reasoning, (1) it is NOT meant to encourage transparency in executive decisions. It was classified, & then leaked to the press. Many of the other torture memos & other OLC memos justifying executive lawbreaking remain classified. They still won't release their memo about why FISA is unconstitutional, for instance.

(2) It is NOT an aide to prosecution. It is an impedement to prosecution. CIA agents who tortured prisoners (in some cases to death) can use the OLC memo to argue that they are immune from prosecution, & most people I talk about this seems to think the argument would work. Also, Bush's DOJ won't even open official investigations in most cases, let alone decide to charge anyone, because they signed off on a alot of this & they know it.

Rosseau, like LB said, we're definitely working off of different definitions of "colorable."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:42 PM
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JM joines KR and LB in the third purge.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:42 PM
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leave 'em in the stocks for a week or so

The old ways usually are the best. Perhaps the fate of Prince Humperdinck as threatened by the Dread Pirate Roberts.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:44 PM
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Rousseau, I didn't say you were a Nazi. Just that you were fucking loony. As I understand, what you've said about Yoo is mostly not true, and his legal arguments were also weak. In any case, however, if we're looking for villains, the lawyers hired to try to find loopholes justifying torture should be on the list. No one not in the legal biz should have to listen to crap about whether he has a case.

Antway, not here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:44 PM
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I don't think this makes me libertarian so much as it makes you determinist.

Oh, I was joking. My bad. I don't really think you should be shot.

I do disagree with your adamant stand against CEOs as a class, though, because I think that's kind of a sloppy way to get at what it is you're (presumably) wanting to get at, which is "self-serving assholes." I really just don't think that external markers like job title are a good way to get at that, however tempting as a shortcut.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:46 PM
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Tarring and feathering and being run out of town on a rail aren't enough, though. If it didn't deter my great-great-great-grand-uncle, it won't deter these fucks.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:47 PM
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Alright, final for real this time.

190: Except for the part where you needlessly insult me again, that is an awesome post. Thanks very much.

188: It's not a goddamn blind spot; I'd love to tear the edifice down. That's just three steps past this argument, as far as I'm concerned.

195: I think it's possible to do bad things without any evil intent; it happens to most people every day. (I've met people like him; their goal is inevitably to "serve their country," which I can't fault on its face.) Unfortunately in this case, the stakes were very high, and the consequences were disastrous. Let's hope we fix it.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:49 PM
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B should be shot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:49 PM
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Phil Knight rules, and anyone who doesn't own at least one article of Nike clothing will be disposed of in the fourth purge.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:50 PM
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Rousseau, you chose the most horrible imaginable way to introduce yourself here. I actually have no idea where you're coming from any more, but what you've said about boggles me every which way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:53 PM
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"about Yoo"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:53 PM
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First against the wall? People who can't take a joke.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:53 PM
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I do disagree with your adamant stand against CEOs as a class

To clarify, I'm pretty sure that this was specifically about the CEOs of exploitative, sweatshop-using companies, as exposed in the Michael Moore movie "The Big One."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:54 PM
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Let's hope we fix it.

The way we fix it is by running out of town people who sufficiently badly misunderstand what it means to "serve their country" (or county or state or institution). We always do this.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:54 PM
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The invasion of Iraq was not the inevitable consequence of the U.S.'s imperial tendencies

I really think it was. Another president might have made the disaster somewhat less obvious, or held onto domestic and international support for a bit longer, but Iraq's fate was sealed since the Gulf War, which established that Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the United States and a problem to be dealt with while simultaneously kicking off nearly a decade of low-level warfare between the U.S. and Iraq. It was only a matter of time before some administration decided to "fix" the situation with America's favorite foreign policy instrument, i.e., military action.

Remember that calls for military action in Iraq were increasing throughout the late 90s, and not just in PNAC and AEI. Post-9/11 you obviously had people like Ken Pollack and Tom Friedman actively agitating for war, but even back during the 2000 campaign you had Josh Marshall occasionally boasting of Al Gore's foreign policy abilities by imagining how a theoretical Gore administration would whip Saddam into shape. The center-left might not have been feverishly dreaming of an Iraq war like the neocons were, but there was always the default assumption that Bill Clinton's successor would engage in at least a few low-level "police actions" the way Reagan, Bush I and Clinton had, and it was reasonable enough for them to assume that one of them would be Iraq, if for no other reason than he seemed to go out of his way to be hugely irritating.

Was an invasion of Iraq a smart thing do do, maintenance-of-empire-wise? No. But constantly invading other countries and backing unpopular dictators isn't smart, either. But a host of factors - a political and media culture that both lionizes and sanitizes the military, the influence of the military-industrial complex, military strength as America's comparative advantage as its relative economic superiority diminishes, etc. - have combined over the past few decades to make war the main instrument of foreign policy, and therefore of imperialism, making America an empire that's likely to go to war even at the cost of its own empire.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:54 PM
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Knight will be shot right in front of Tim, and then Tim will be shot while he weeps bitter tears for his great leader.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:55 PM
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Don't worry Rouseau, Emerson's name is already included in the second purge. (I hope you aren't being run off. Unless you're John Yoo.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:55 PM
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Only when I stop to think about it
I hate everything about Yoo


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:56 PM
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Jackmormon, your kind can't be deterred or reformed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:56 PM
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B should be shot.

I've got a sizable collection of ghetto passes and "get out of execution free" cards, which I can present as needed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:57 PM
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202: Argh, always something good to respond to. LB, it's just the definition of someone jaded by the legal system. I think that probably every third brief in an appellate court should be sanctioned, but they sure won't be; graded on actual legal support and presumptive straight-facedness, this sucker doesn't even toe the line of the garbage I've seen. Which is really the only reason why I can't wrap my head around Katherine's posts; I feel like she lives in a much, much nicer world than I do.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:58 PM
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We'll have white people shoot you, B.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:58 PM
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While singing "In the Ghetto."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:00 PM
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We'll have white people Wayne Brady shoot you, B.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:02 PM
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Rousseau, we really aren't against Yoo because he's a sloppy legal technician. We're against Yoo because he's patching together an sloppy argument justifying torture (and I believe that he also has a hand in the unitary President stuff too, and probably more stuff). That's what we're talking about.

Apparently this offended you, because to you the only thing in question was the quality of his legal craftsmanship. To me, that's offensively loony.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:02 PM
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Iraq's fate was sealed since the Gulf War

So, was the restoration of Kuwait some sort of Original Sin, or does that go back to Sykes-Picot, or even further to the Ottoman takeover of the Caliphate, or even to the Martyrdom of Ali?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:02 PM
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I think that 219 is more true than I'd really like to admit. Even now, even John Edwards is campaigning on a slogan of "restoring America's place in the world" (or some phrase very similiar). That place---that of "hyperpower," as annoying as the word always was---is pretty much over, and these past few years have demonstrated, to me at least, that the American structural position after the collapse of the USSR was sort of accidental, sort of convenient, and was inevitably going to founder and dissolve. Bush's idiocies have only accelerated the process by proving to other countries how necessary self-interested statecraft was. Of course our allies would like to see America come to its senses, but we're never again going to occupy the central position that we held in the late 90s.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:02 PM
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214: How does this work as a G.U.T.? We live in a country with a broken legal system that encourages and rewards formalistic nitpickery at the expense of any hope for real justice, but where the system is so internally consistent that the vast majority of even very smart people can be sucked in and see their world unthinkingly through its lens. John Yoo is just another sheep operating under sheep rules. He was trained by sheep, and he doesn't have the self-reflective capacity to get out. I'm not going to ascribe "evil" to him just because he's too fucking dumb to recognize that he's a cog.

But I'm not going to recommend mercy killing him, either.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:03 PM
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Making a crappy legal argument in open court, to a judge who is free to write "bullshit! bullshit! bullshit!" all over it & rule against you even if he doesn't sanction you, is very very very different from doing it in a secret legal opinion that has the force of law within the executive branch, leads to people being tortured (in some cases fatally), & prevents anyone for their torture. If the OLC is going to act like the President's hired goons, it shouldn't exist.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:03 PM
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We'll have white people Wayne Brady shoot you, B.

We'll have white people Wayne Brady shoot you, choke a B.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:05 PM
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In 233, "prevents anyone for their torture" should be "prevents anyone from being prosecuted for their torture."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:05 PM
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in time, it became a proverb:
"A thousand deaths are not enough for Yoo!"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:06 PM
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228: What, you're going to institute loyalty tests for your people? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

226: You forget where I'm from, John. No Okie would convict me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:06 PM
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Jesus, Rousseau, are you related to the Yoo family? Did you play with him in primary school? There's no reason to say that shit. If you convince me that all lawyers are pretty much like him and that he's just a regular guy, I guess I'd have to shoot all of them. But I don't believe that.

Bonus demerits for putting "evil" in scare quotes. It makes you seem like a shithead.

Bonus demerits for trotting out the Monty Python "Society's to Blame" punchline. Jesus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:08 PM
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he doesn't have the self-reflective capacity to get out

This, I very much doubt.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:09 PM
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So, was the restoration of Kuwait some sort of Original Sin

Maybe the Original Sin had something to do with propping up and maintaining the dictator who invaded Kuwait in the first place - to say nothing of his slaughter of the Kurds and his war of aggression with Iran, both of which were either quietly supported or encouraged by American administrations. All of it done, of course, in the name of furthering America's Interests In The Region.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:09 PM
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All of it done, of course, in the name of furthering America's Interests In The Region.

Or more to the point, sticking it to the Ayatollah for that whole hostage thing without actually going to war, yet.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:13 PM
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Remember that calls for military action in Iraq were increasing throughout the late 90s, and not just in PNAC and AEI.

True, true. And it's easy to suppose that a McCain presidency would not have been different at all from a Bush presidency in this regard, so that's got the Republicans pretty well covered.

I also agree that people underestimate the degree to which these ideas were already in circulation - even among folks who supported Gore.

But ... there's a fairly clear indication of what President Gore would have done, and not done, given his own contemporaneuous statements as the war-drums started beating.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:14 PM
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If you convince me that all lawyers are pretty much like him and that he's just a regular guy, I guess I'd have to shoot all of them. But I don't believe that.

Litigators, maybe. It's been awhile since I've had a case where I could explain what was going on to layperson without their cracking up over how godawful the conduct of everyone involved, but my clients particularly, was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:14 PM
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236: Nerd.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:14 PM
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I'm not going to recommend mercy killing him, either

I think we're mostly all in agreement that mercy is going to be in short supply when it's Yoo's testicles being nailed to the table.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:14 PM
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There's no reason to say that shit.

Excepting that he wants to say it, which is pretty much enough.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:14 PM
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Ah, but the Ayatollah was just blowback from Mossadegh.

Just remember, ever since the shores of Tripoli, this country has been nothing but a scam by the big money boys. Believe anything else and you're a sucker.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:15 PM
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232:

We live in a country with a broken legal system that encourages and rewards formalistic nitpickery at the expense of any hope for real justice, but where the system is so internally consistent that the vast majority of even very smart people can be sucked in and see their world unthinkingly through its lens.

Rousseau is right with this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:15 PM
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The creation of Kuwait as a British Protectorate wasn't the brightest long-term idea, mind you.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:15 PM
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Seriously, Tim, do you want this guy bumping around annoying people forever here? Are you going kumbayah on us? Do you find this interesting? We're still waiting to find out whether he has anything intelligible to say about his main and only interesting point, which is that Yoo made a reasonable case.

But I'm not the boss of here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:19 PM
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ever since the shores of Tripoli, this country has been nothing but a scam by the big money boys

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:19 PM
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244--
haven't read that stuff since it came out, how many decades ago. to be frank.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:19 PM
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239: Have you met our Supreme Court? Nine bright folks making political decisions while writing 50-page term papers explaining why their decisions aren't political. I don't know how you can do that for 30 years without being self-deluded -- and tens of thousands of lawyers want to be just like them.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:20 PM
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252: Junior high for me.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:20 PM
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252: indiscretion error, Frank?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:21 PM
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254: OK, shoot em all. Starting with Yoo, and then you next.

But you know, most of the justices know that they're political. They've been heavily coached and vetted for confirmation purposes, but the conservatives know that they're conservatives.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:23 PM
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Nine bright folks making political decisions while writing 50-page term papers explaining why their decisions aren't political. I don't know how you can do that for 30 years without being self-deluded -- and tens of thousands of lawyers want to be just like them.

There's a difference between the sort of person who lies well because it's necessary to advance your cause (be it a political agenda or your career) and being the moron who believes the lies.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:23 PM
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I'd like the see the - and I hate to trot out a word with negative connotations like this - isolationist strain of argument in this thread made a little more explicit. What exactly does America do in the near future that is not commensurate with a twentieth century-style foreign policy? Even people like Yglesias more or less claim that their ideal policy is last century's liberal internationalism, which you are calling empire.

I don't see how a country as powerful as the United States can act as anything other than an imperial power, if the actions of an imperial power include things like (as mentioned on this thread) occupying Afghanistan.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:24 PM
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248: Rousseau is wrong with this. The law in the best functioning legal system anywhere is necessarily going to involve "formalistic nitpickery." Suggesting that there isn't an interesting difference between Yoo's use of the law and everyone else's is, in itself, formalistic nitpickery.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:24 PM
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while writing 50-page term papers explaining why their decisions aren't political

Which tells me that they aren't self-deluded, just disingenuous. You really think that Scalia or Yoo don't understand *exactly* what they're doing? Because I don't believe that for a second.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:24 PM
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I really think Bush v. Gore put to rest any notion that the Supremes don't know that they're political operatives.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:25 PM
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Rousseau, your ever-changing argument is making me suspect that Emerson is right about you. So is it that Yoo's argument helps us better understand loopholes, or that it's colorable, or that he's merely a cog in the machine, or that the machine is utterly corrupt, or what?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:25 PM
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260: But they all say otherwise, not just Scalia; do you think the whole lot of them are liars?


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:28 PM
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I don't want to put words in Rousseau's mouth, but I get the feeling that s/he is simply uncomfortable with calling *anybody* evil. Sometimes, though, the simplest explanation really is the correct one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:28 PM
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I think Rousseau is bringing up an interesting point, though, really. I mean, the law *is* (obviously) amendable to this kind of crap, and I think it's true that yes, excellent lawyers are excellent in part because they are good at this sort of thing. It's the whole spirit vs. letter of the law problem, and the larger issue of the difficulty of defining "spirit" (in this case).

Suggesting that there isn't an interesting difference between Yoo's use of the law and everyone else's is, in itself, formalistic nitpickery.

Right, but the problems are (1) defining the difference; and (2) that "Yoo's evil" isn't exactly interesting (though it is fun).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:30 PM
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230,240:The Origins of American Authoritarianism in Orientalism, or the actual title, or the Banality of Racism.

Someone could look at Orientalism (deeper than Said's) and the 19th Century Southern Cavalier tradition. Slavery & Sexism in Evangelistic Cultures?
A Well-Oiled Sharing of Repressed Homosexuality in Texas and the Gulf Kingdoms?

I leave the details to the ondts.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:30 PM
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Also blah blah banality of evil blah blah.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:31 PM
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Frowner goes AWOL for weeks, and then we have one thread about politically-inspired murder, and suddenly she's all over the place.

I don't normally agree with stras, but his response to Rousseau in 141 is exactly right. If this be moderation, the viva la revolucion!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:33 PM
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B reaches into her goddamn Barrel o' Opinions once more.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:33 PM
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265: I should leave this to the lawyers, B, but in fact if the rule of law ever catches up to Yoo, I suspect the sumbitch is going to jail.

We're still waiting for Rousseau to provide some colorable basis for Yoo's written opinion, but I don't believe such a thing exists. Yoo is not applying the law, he's circumventing it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:33 PM
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Well-Oiled Sharing of Repressed Homosexuality

ATM


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:33 PM
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Hey, I'm just trying to facilitate discussion and heterodox opinion here, people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:35 PM
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(1) I don't really care very much if people's ultimate ends are good. Almost everyone's ultimate ends are good if you get abstract enough about it. Do Yoo & Addington & Cheney truly believe they've done only what's necessary to protect the country? It's quite possible, maybe even more likely than not--but really, so what? Muhammad Atta probably truly believed he was doing God's will.

(2) The legal system may be fundamentally broken but the OLC torture memos aren't just an unremarkable subset of that, & I'd really like to see anyone who makes that claim respond to my points about secrecy & immunization from prosecution. Yoo was not a criminal defense lawyer making every possible argument he could to prevent his client from going to jail. He is advising the President & the entire executive branch, in secret: "go ahead, waterboard them, it's legal." This is not something most lawyers are willing to do. There are mob lawyers out there, but most lawyers aren't mob lawyers, and don't hold mob lawyers in high repute. Further: (a) a mob lawyer is at least serving his client. Yoo wasn't. OLC's client is supposed to be the United States of America & its citizens, not the President, just as a corporate lawyer is supposed to represent the company & its shareholders, not the CEO. (b) Yoo's advice makes it difficult if not impossible to prosecute anyone for involvement in waterboarding, & he and the people he was advising knew it. A mob lawyer doesn't have that power.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:36 PM
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Next you'll be saying "I make mistakes to keep you on your toes, class".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:36 PM
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Maybe the shortest way to put this is that being evil is not incompatible with being a clever sophist. Or that being evil rarely involves a decisive moment where one's soul is forever corrupted, just a series of moments where it tarnishes.

The love-my-prada-backpack-worst part about giving the philosophical justifications for torture would be the future generations referring to it as the Cala Doctrine.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:36 PM
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Hey, I'm just trying to facilitate discussion and heterodox opinion here, people.

Soon to join "others support me in e-mail" and "I've consulted a lawyer" on Troll Bingo cards everywhere.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:37 PM
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do you think the whole lot of them are liars?

Yes.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:39 PM
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I have lost track of the timeline. Was Yoo's memo generated to give cover to torture that had already occurred, i.e. KSM, and thus applied retroactively, or was it anticipatory? I can see wanting to help the Boss out of a jam that had previously occurred, as opposed to, ya know, making it OK to torture people, should it ever come up, in the future.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:40 PM
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"I make mistakes to keep you on your toes, class PK".


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:40 PM
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273: I'm pretty sure that Cheney knows that this is not in any sense a defensive war. 9/11 was the best think that ever happened to Dick.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:42 PM
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"thing"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:45 PM
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258:A perverse Neo-Angellism by proxy. Encourage capital flight with confiscatory corporate taxes, so that Dubai and Bahrain have the assets to be protected. Saudi Arabia is already demanding its buddies build-up their militaries(cite on request).

Capital flight and the resulting budget/social strains will foreclose the US acting as mercenaries/protection racket for newly developed economies. Those economies, seeing the forbidding costs of military competition and the advantages of free trade, will become, in their own ways, modern nations.

America, like Britain before us, will develop its tourist industry. Vacation lake front cottages for desert dwellers in Minnesota & Wisconsin. Emerson should learn Arabic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:45 PM
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He is advising the President & the entire executive branch, in secret . . . a mob lawyer is at least serving his client. Yoo wasn't. OLC's client is supposed to be the United States of America & its citizens, not the President, just as a corporate lawyer is supposed to represent the company & its shareholders, not the CEO.

Works for me. Much more satisfying explication than "evil." I really love the concept of professionalism and professional standards. (And yes, that statement is completely sincere, and I acknowledge that it is also incredibly bourgeois.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:46 PM
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9/11 was the best think that ever happened to Dick.

281: superior in the original.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:46 PM
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Maybe the shortest way to put this is that being evil is not incompatible with being a clever sophist.

The potentially interesting point that Rousseau seemed to want to make is that Yoo is, in fact, a clever sophist. I'd be curious to see evidence of that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:46 PM
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No one ever said that Yoo was evil. We just wanted to have him shot. Rousseau put words in our moths.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:48 PM
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Rousseau put words in our moths.

Something bugs me about this sentence.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:49 PM
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"mouths"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:49 PM
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278: there are actually multiple memos, many of which we've never seen. The opinion that has been leaked, which is referred to as the "torture memo", is the August 1, 2002 OLC memo signed by Jay Bybee & written by Yoo. At that time, I think we'd already used "enhanced interrogation" on Abu Zubayda & probably some others, but KSM was captured later. I think there were disputes between the CIA & FBI about some of the early interrogations, with the FBI arguing that some of these techniques were illegal & pulling out their agents, & the CIA probably got nervous and asked for official authorization backed by DOJ legal opinions before they continued. (This is me speculating based on half-remembered news articles, though). It certainly wasn't purely backward-looking, though: it was relatively early in the CIA program.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:50 PM
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No one ever said that Yoo was evil.

If I didn't say it, I certainly meant to.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:53 PM
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282: I asked how a country as powerful as America could not act imperially. If the solution is to become radically less powerful, we don't need your confiscatory taxes; the self-destructive nature of current capitalism (you may mcmanusly read "current" as "all", if you like) will do that for us.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:54 PM
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Well, plus the question of, okay, let's say we shoot Yoo. (Ha!) Does that actually address the intrinsic problem of legalistic sophistry?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:56 PM
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It certainly addresses the problem of Yoo's legalistic sophistry.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:58 PM
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Of course. But then someone else comes along. You know, just like getting rid of Ashcroft didn't magically solve anything.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:01 PM
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277: Rough. I feel like the cognitive dissonance would give you an aneurysm.

B: yes pretty much writ large. Thanks for making me clearer.

285: I think the memo is evidence. It's a well-written, clear, professional memo advocating a terrible thing. I just imagine that Yoo's directive was, "to serve the country, we want to torture, what can we get away with?" and he said, "these are the limits." From a "legal ethics" perspective, he wasn't supposed to think about normatives; just to describe.

273: I agree with you that the secrecy is problematic and makes a substantive difference. I think that it's still feasible that he thought he was helping the country, but who knows?

So I guess the distinction is, is he evil because he wrote the memo and didn't quit his job? And apparently I'm not willing to say unabashedly yes.

264: Dobson.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:02 PM
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You seem to be forgetting the magic revolution that precedes dealing with John Yoo's crimes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:02 PM
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Again: I'd like to see the case made that Yoo is engaged in legalistic sophistry. The evidence I've seen is that he basically makes shit up on command.

The problem of legalistic sophistry is not addressable, because it's built into any legal system.

But that's not the problem I have with Yoo. Yoo is like any successful criminal - the law hasn't caught him. I think the bastard is part of a conspiracy to disobey the law. The solution for criminals is not to excuse their behavior because they lie about it. The solution is to put 'em in jail. Or, if that's impossible, to vilify them to the point that their behavior isn't seen as a normal product of the system.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:03 PM
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Not to get all McManus, but... Actually, to totally get all McManus, the worst fucking thing about liberals is they are completely unable to understand the notion of vengeance. I want to drink beer out of the skull of Osama bin Laden. Shooting John Yoo possesses intrinsic positive utility equal to hundreds of thousands of mouse orgasms. John Yoo stabbed a shiv in the heart of my country, and he must pay for what he's done.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:04 PM
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292: We're shooting you too, B, even though the Barrel o' Opinions will survive you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:05 PM
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You know, just like getting rid of Ashcroft didn't magically solve anything.

Indeed it did. There was a problem getting an AG who would legally endorse torture. Ashcroft exits, problem solved. Individuals do matter.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:05 PM
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We could have small children bob for Opinions every year on B Day. It'll be very tasteful.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:07 PM
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This thread has proved substantially less light-hearted than I hoped when I proposed the liquidation of John Simon.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:07 PM
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I just imagine that Yoo's directive was, "to serve the country, we want to torture, what can we get away with?" and he said, "these are the limits." From a "legal ethics" perspective, he wasn't supposed to think about normatives; just to describe.

That's not description, that's advocacy. The memo purports to be a neutral assessment of the law with respect to torture. If you know much about the state of the relevant law, it's, instead, a brief strongly advocating for the right to torture, and making some choices (in terms of ignoring contrary law) that whatever you may say about lawyers generally, that you wouldn't make in a case where you were expecting to see an opposition brief, because opposing counsel would make you look like an incompetent crook.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:07 PM
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I am totally uninterested in the state of John Yoo's soul, but totally comfortable saying that writing that memo was seriously evil act. That he might have thought he was helping the country by writing it is basically irrelevant.

Rousseau, I think you're totally wrong about the legal ethics & you're using a funny definiton of "professional". See David Luban's writing on the subject. In general, I think you're also changing your arguments to avoid conceding points, & the fact that you started defending the memo without even knowing what it said kind of undermines any serious defense of Yoo.

As to whether even non-serious "up against the wall" rhetoric is objectionable: if it's "talk like a communist revolutionary" day, sort of like "talk like a Pirate day", not really, especially if it's well executed & funny. If it's meant to suggest that best way to REALLY show how strongly we disapprove of Yoo, we need to make jokes about summary execution & torture, yeah, I'm not crazy about it. It seems to rather undermine the argument that certain things are never, never okay for anyone to do to anyone.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:09 PM
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Individuals do matter.

Absolutely agreed. But they aren't the only thing that matters.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:09 PM
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if it's "talk like a communist revolutionary" day,

Da.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:10 PM
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Do you want this guy bumping around annoying people forever here?

I do. Come on in and sit a spell, Rousseau. Any thread that announces its intention to discuss retributive post-revolutionary violence is going to attract more than its fair share of attention from Emerson and McManus, but the blog is more than their opinions.

On the substance I agree with Katherine, but I don't mind Rousseau's mixing it up.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:11 PM
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Apparently Rousseau is on the Lawyer Immunity Task Force of the ABA, which holds that anything a lawyer does in the course of his work is perfectly OK, and only his clients (and Society) are to blame. Sort of the way noblemen couldn't be prosecuted in the Middle Ages.

Also, people shouldn't say bad things about lawyers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:12 PM
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After the revolution, John Yoo's testicles will roll in the streets like beets.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:13 PM
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308: Come to think of it, this is all perfectly unobjectionable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:14 PM
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We could have small children bob for Opinions every year on B Day.

I would be deeply, deeply honored if there were a day in my honor in which kids were asked to take random opinions and defend them. If done properly, they'd learn to be better thinkers and more empathetic human beings.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:14 PM
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Jesus, KR, you love all mankind.

My original objection was just about the torture thing, but as Ogged observed, the guy is a time-wasting game-player who keeps changing his story.

But hey, consensus rules, whatever that is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:15 PM
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308.1: No, it's the Lawyer Immunity Task Force that is to blame.

308.2: Do I sound like I'm saying good things about lawyers?


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:16 PM
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If it's meant to suggest that best way to REALLY show how strongly we disapprove of Yoo, we need to make jokes about summary execution & torture, yeah, I'm not crazy about it.

I hate to say it, but I think that given the opportunity, Emerson and McManus would personally and cheerfully pull the trigger in that firing squad. Maybe SCMT, too. That's one of the reasons I'm not even comfortable joking about it. (Apologies if I am wrongly attributing these sentiments to the aforementioned.)

FWIW, I knew Yoo personally a long time ago. I never particularly liked him, but I also never thought him capable of the monstrous perversions of justice he has apparently perpetrated.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:17 PM
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At least nobody is talking about beating up Yoo's kids. That would clearly cross a line.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:17 PM
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The idea that someone would a) defend John Yoo, who helped bring about honest-to-god torture, but b) be bothered by some half-assed joking about entirely-fictional revolutions, is the kind of mind-expanding experience that you can't have without the internet.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:19 PM
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Pwned a few times since I've been able to post this, but:

273.2:

Yoo's advice makes it difficult if not impossible to prosecute anyone for involvement in waterboarding, & he and the people he was advising knew it

One assumes that this was precisely the task Yoo was assigned. He sucks for having done it; I'm not sure what calling him evil adds.

I'm understanding 273.2 overall to be acknowledging that the machine is corrupt, that the OLC doesn't (always) represent the US and its citizens, but rather the President.

The main point of contention with one version of what Rousseau is saying, then, is just whether we put Yoo up against the wall for his contribution to a deeply corrupt, immoral agenda. And that strikes me as a broader question about the extent to which we condemn those who participate in evil ways.

This from 304 I find problematic:

That he might have thought he was helping the country by writing it is basically irrelevant.

Analogies are obviously banned, but one wonders what stance we might take toward the soldiers over there in Iraq.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:19 PM
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I think that given the opportunity, Emerson and McManus would personally and cheerfully pull the trigger in that firing squad.

I doubt it. Those two are far less likely to "just follow orders" than most of us.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:19 PM
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262, 304, 312: I may be incoherent, but I have not been changing my story.

oh god have i proved i am a loon


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:20 PM
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I'm not sure what calling him evil adds.

Precision.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:21 PM
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Yoo was a political appointee, not professional staff or a neutral technician. Even so, he crossed the line by serving as the house lawyer for the Bush mob rather than serving the American people. He was a player in what Bush was doing, not just "doing his job".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:25 PM
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304: I said that writing the memo was evil, not that John Yoo was evil. But no, I don't think that adds much beyond saying "he sucks for writing it"; the only reason I said it was that I don't think it's something anyone needs to back away from. I've mainly been focused on arguing that his legal reasoning was crap.

I think there's a huge, gaping moral chasm between Yoo writing the torture memo & soldiers serving in Iraq, but you need a finer grained argument than "they're doing it for America, or at least they believe they are" to explain that distinction. I'm not arguing that intentions are always irrelevant to morality. I'm saying that a certain level of abstraction, it's always possible to argue "good intentions" & it ceases to mean much.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:30 PM
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Katherine, thanks for engaging with substance, even if you do think I'm a ninny. Any specific scholarship of Luban's (or anyone else) that you think I should check out? Have you read Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb, and The War on Terrorism and the End of Human Rights?


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:34 PM
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This started out as a joke post, and all of a sudden it's serious and I'm being accused of being a ruthless killer because I've tried to run a tedious quibbler out of here. So no more firing squads.

1. Question 1 is whether Yoo is culpable and should be called to account. I say yes. Rousseau says no, for shifting reasons. B seems to agree with him for mysterious B reasons.

2. I think that Rousseau's game-playing argumentation is a waste of time with no value added -- I think that Ogged's 262 nails it. But I do not actually think that he should be shot.

May the consensus decide.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:36 PM
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This is one of those things where conservatives have half a point with all of their moral clarity crap. We should call John Yoo evil because he is evil.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:36 PM
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15

"If anything, ogged actually understates the case against Yoo. He developed some of his most outlandish views on executive power late in his career, when he was being paid by the federal treasury to do so on behalf of the administration. It would be bad enough if all his views were sincerely held, but I'm not even sure *that* is the case. "

But that is what lawyers do. Come up with arguments to defend bad acts by bad people. For money. Half the time at least.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:40 PM
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If Yoo had done it all for free, then we would have to let him off under the little-known Evil Performance Artist exception.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:41 PM
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322: I didn't mean to suggest that you said Yoo was evil; other people have been suggesting as much.

I think there's a huge, gaping moral chasm between Yoo writing the torture memo & soldiers serving in Iraq, but you need a finer grained argument than "they're doing it for America, or at least they believe they are" to explain that distinction.

I agree that there's a distinction to be made there; in the absence of a finer grained argument, however, the comparison stands, and it doesn't trade on "good intentions," but rather on the thought that the parties in question are arguably just doing their jobs.

(Please note that I don't actually buy this doing-their-jobs line, but want to point out that you'll need an argument against it.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:41 PM
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It seems to me that what Yoo did was, they asked him "Is this legal?" and he said "Yes." Thus leading to more torture.

Maybe there was a pro-torture camp and an anti-torture camp in the administration and he was performing his contractual duty on behalf of the pro-torture camp and if he didn't somebody else would have because it was just his job, but I think it was a little different. He was given a more neutral responsibility than that, and he could have said "No, torture isn't legal", and they would have had to rethink things.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:42 PM
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Jesus, KR, you love all mankind.
Eh, I could do without Yoo.


Posted by: Jesus H. Christ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:42 PM
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262, 324: Man! Just put 'em in order!

1. The machine is utterly corrupt (premise based on my being a curmudgeon);

2. Yoo is merely a cog in the machine (and thus dumb more than evil);

3. Yoo's argument is colorable in the context of the machine (because it's a triumph of form over substance, and thus works for its purpose, which is to stay within the law); and

4. Yoo's argument helps us better understand loopholes (because it shows how easy it is to write a memo that accomplishes terrible things without being technically criminal).


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:43 PM
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I find all the Yoo hatred a bit bizarre. Is he even on the top 100 list of people responsible for the fact that the US has been using torture? Does George Bush know who he is?

As for his legal arguments, how many votes would they get on the Supreme Court?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:44 PM
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5: Sidney Mussburger? I know he's emblematic of the entire depraved capitalist system, but he's not that bad!


Posted by: J-Dub | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:46 PM
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Parsimon's 317 and 328 violate not just the letter but the spirit of the analogy ban, inviting us into a tedious discussion of whether and how U.S. soldiers' following orders in Iraq is different from Yoo's providing a legal fig leaf for torture. Urgh.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:46 PM
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329

Is this true?

It is contrary to my understanding of how the Bush administration works. Which is to decide what they want to do and then look for ways to justify it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:47 PM
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2. Yoo is merely a cog in the machine (and thus dumb more than evil)

I don't see how the parenthetical clause follows from the previous one. Plenty of people wittingly choose to be cogs in machines.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:49 PM
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334: Rules is rules, parsimon. Against the wall.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:49 PM
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328, 329: Ned's got it. His job wasn't to write a brief coming up with the strongest legal argument for whatever the bastards asking him the question wanted to do (as Shearer notes, that is my job). His job was to render a neutral opinion about his understanding of what the law properly should be read to allow. And the memo is a piece of advocacy, not a neutral opinion.

Now, advocacy - making the strongest argument you can for your client, even if you don't buy it yourself - is tolerable in an adversarial system because you've got an adversary who's pointing out the holes in your argument, and a neutral judge who decides who's right. In circumstances where you don't have an adversary, it's irresponsible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:49 PM
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No actual firing squad was ever mentioned. No serious prosecution for any specific crime was every mentioned. This started as a joke, and people said that they thought that Yoo was an especially reprehensible member of the Bush administration.

There are various nuances to this, but trying to transform one of the players (Yoo) into some kind of neutral technician who was just doing his job is wrong every which way. First, he wasn't really doing his job, he was acting as an errand boy for Cheney and Bush, and that's not how his job is defined. Second, he was an active player and a political appointee (not professional staff or a lowly underling), so that if what Bush and Cheney were doing was wrong, what Yoo was doing is wrong. Third, it's not certain that his legal opinion had any legal merit or was within the normal bound of legal practice. Fourth, the secrecy with which all this was done probably makes his culpability greater.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:50 PM
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Yoo is high on the list on this class of issues, James.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:52 PM
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3. Yoo's argument is colorable in the context of the machine (because it's a triumph of form over substance, and thus works for its purpose, which is to stay within the law); and

4. Yoo's argument helps us better understand loopholes (because it shows how easy it is to write a memo that accomplishes terrible things without being technically criminal).

This is still bullshit. You keep on coming back to what sounds like a claim that Yoo's arguments are, while morally repugnant, 'technically' valid. They really don't appear to be. (Things like the claim that the Geneva Conventions intentionally omit a class of conflicts from those covered by Common Article 3 aren't technically valid, they're something much closer to obviously false.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:52 PM
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It is contrary to my understanding of how the Bush administration works. Which is to decide what they want to do and then look for ways to justify it.

True of certain people in the Bush administration, but people with opposing views have held power from time to time, e.g. the recently-publicized Comey and Goldsmith. Yoo made it a lot harder for them to win the battles over such issues as whether the rule of law existed.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:54 PM
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331: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 adds up to a waste of time. Which of those is your point, if you have one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:54 PM
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Yoo is not arguably doing his job, except in the sense that it is physically possible to argue that he was doing his job & some Powerline hack has probably made the argument. He took an oath to serve the Constitution, not the President. The President is not his client, nor is the CIA. He was charged with providing a neutral professional legal analysis of whether or not certain techniques were legal. The people who relied on his analysis were not lawyers. Now, I think it was probably clear to him that the President wanted him to come out a certain way, but I doubt he was given an explicit instruction, and even if he was, he had an ethical obligation to summarize the law accurately. Would he have gotten fired for refusing to write the memo they wanted? Maybe, maybe not; it's actually not clear to me at all that he would've been. Even if he would've been--so what? That was what he was obligated to do, & the worst thing he faced was going back to his tenured position at Berkeley. A soldier who disobeys an order to face Iraq can't just quit, & he's subject to court martial, jail time, the loss of his military career & attendant benefits, a dishonorable discharge that probably will follow him around in civilian life, etc. Also, we actually do demand that a soldier who is ordered to torture a prisoner refuse the order & take all the risks that entails.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:55 PM
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298: some people draw a distinction between vengeance, where the sole goal is to do personal harm to a criminal & retribution/accountablity, which is a sort of collective moral judgment that this is was an awful, awful thing that our society does not allow. Hate the sinner versus hate the sin, basically. The distinction often collapses in practice, but if you're hating the sin, you're not going to be very effective if you do the exact same thing that you're ostensibly condemning: sentencing rapists to be raped or torturers to be tortured is not a very effective statement that rape and torture are unacceptable.

This probably sounds over-earnest and really not a very convincing distinction in the abstract. But when you get specific, I think it's pretty hard to deny the difference between say, the Sierra Leone war crimes tribunals and the killing of Samuel Doe.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:58 PM
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295- The memo was not advocacy or assessment. To call it a legal brief is overstatement. It was a mundane bureaucratic directive that facilitated torture.

Agency says, 'Yeah, not sure this water boarding you want us to do is cool'. WH says. 'er, ok, let me get something in writing that says it's real teh cool.'

That doesn't create a legal brief. That creates an authorization. I suppose it's possible that Agency lawyers look at it then question it's legal logic, but....

And that's why Ogged is right. Yoo is using his legal credentials to push through torture authorization, which is evil.



Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:02 PM
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Yoo was acting as an advisor. He was charged with providing an opinion, not an argument. His opinion, while not creating or influencing the policy of the administration, facilitated that policy. This is to say, his opinion provided legal cover for those implementing the policy. Should those charged with carrying out the policy, implement it? They should if it is legal . . . or if some authoritative voice claims that it is legal. The opinion provides cover to the extent that it is presumed to be a reasonable and good faith reading of the relevant laws that the implementers can rely on.

The torture memo is not a reasonable or good faith opinion as to anything. It is a piece of advocacy masquerading as advice. Neither its content (arguments) or form (advice/opinion) is offered in good faith. The memo is pretextual and half-assed.

On first reading the memo my only reaction was wonderment as to how this person could remain employed by any organization that valued competent legal analysis.


Posted by: Alfi G | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:03 PM
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Even as a reliable Democrat, one-time community organizer, and liberal activist lawyer, threads like this make me feel sad and unwelcome...
...But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:06 PM
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337: I've been up against the wall before, Apo. I can take it.

More seriously, I don't think what Bave indicates in 334 is a tedious discussion. The claim would be that doing your job is, in our militarized state, increasingly indistinguishable from following orders. They should not be the same.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:06 PM
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I've been up against the wall before, Apo. I can take it.

Father, forgive me for I have had carnal relations with a man who wasn't my husband.

Well, my child, was it against your will?

No, father, it was against the china cupboard and oh but you should have heard the dishes rattlin'!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:12 PM
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343: What were you looking for? What great revelation? I'm just talking to a bunch of people who are smart and interesting about thoughts that I've had. I honestly don't know why you think I'm playing games.

LB and Katherine have understood what I was trying to say, and have pointed out the parts of my admittedly cobbled-together theory that need shoring up on the law. They're both obviously annoyed with me, but whatever, tone doesn't translate online, I imagine they'd be less annoyed with me in person. They've given me some things to think about, and I appreciate it.

You, on the other hand, have called me tedious, a shithead, and a loony. So I just want to say it one more time: I have not been fucking with you. I have some theories; they're a little weird; that's it. Turns out that the Mineshaft was actually pretty damn welcoming to me. Why not you?

KR, B, parsimon, sifu, apo, et al: thanks for being kind. Much appreciated.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:20 PM
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350:

Foregive me father, for I have sinned. Last night I had carnal relations with the wife of my neighbor.

Well, my child, that is a very grave sin. How many times did you do this?

Father, I came here to confess, not to brag.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:21 PM
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Mr. Emerson picks someone to get extremely angry at every week or so, and constantly assumes that that person is arguing in bad faith, for unknown reasons.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:21 PM
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Those who describe the Yoo question in terms of advocacy versus advice (347 and others) are right on.

344's in the sense that it is physically possible to argue is a way cool phrase.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:24 PM
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Long live the kinder and gentler Yoo-friendly Mineshaft.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:25 PM
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I actually hate the "but John Yoo is very pleasant & an eminent legal scholar & a good man" or "Dick Cheney no doubt sincerely is trying to protect the country" or "David Addington loves his daughters" or "I don't agree with his constitutional analysis, but he raises serious issues & I appreciate his thoughtful, scholarly contribution to the debate" that people tend to sprinkle into these discussions. So I try to be substantive, yet hostile.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:32 PM
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351: Christ, can we quit with the hanky-tearing already? "Ooh, look at me, I'm a 'liberal activist lawyer', just wandering the intertubes, mindin' my own business, and those nasty, nasty mens criticized John Yoo! Oh, gracious, I shall have to quit this horrible place, where people say mean things about rightist torture hacks!"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:32 PM
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I doubt Dick Cheney's sincerity. I doubt it to the depths of his shriveled blackened heart.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:34 PM
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I'd like to see this guy up against the wall.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:38 PM
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"Dick Cheney no doubt sincerely is trying to protect the country"

Christ, did someone say that? Here? Really? I don't think so. So chill.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:44 PM
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331: Speculation about whether Yoo is a "cog" or not is of limited interest, and 3 and 4 are non-responsive to specific points others have made.

1 is an example of how curmudgeonliness can provide a cover for extraordinary criminality. Politicians always lie, don't they? And they fight wars all the time, right? And don't lawyers always engage in sophistry? Say this sort of thing to yourself enough time, and you can completely ignore the point where a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind.

One key division in American politics today, it seems to me, is between a) people who see that something extremely out of the ordinary has happened since 2000 and b) people who want to pretend that the current trends are all of a piece with politics of yore. There are continuities, but overall position b) is hard to defend and not really a position worth defending.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:51 PM
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Is he even on the top 100 list of people responsible for the fact that the US has been using torture? Does George Bush know who he is?

Yes, and yes.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:00 PM
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Week one of the kinder and gentler Unfogged has not gone well, if you ask me.

As far as I can see, we just got trolled. Go through his posts from beginning to end and ask what he's doing. He started off with his moderate "these people said they'd start being nice but they're mean", and then he fed us a string of baits and taunts while step by step revising his message to make it seem inoffensive, thus making those who objected look bad. And note the scattered snark (which is obviously OK among friends).

To me the statements below are things that we should not bother with at this stage of the game. If Unfogged wants to go back to having dialogues with this kind of self-described moderate, that's Unfogged's decision. I obviously don't see any reason why we should. Describing the below as silly is the nicest thing I can say about it:

137 Well, the first thing that hit me was the consensus against Yoo. I happen to think that the memo was exactly the kind of thing we want in a democracy: the forced reasoning-out and documentation of decisions of power.... And I think the attempts at censorship and protest of Yoo by Boalt students were thoroughly counterproductive, and ultimately hampered a rational critical response to his argument on the law.

147: But also, I think the memo isn't bad, insofar as it points out the problems with the International Law regime. "Here are our loopholes, Mr. President." He's probably not wrong.
But then it just seems like everyone's, "oh, he's Evil, innit he!" and I'll get run out on a rail.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:07 PM
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361:

There are continuities, but overall position b) is hard to defend and not really a position worth defending.

There are continuities; I'd venture that many of us see both (a) and (b) -- it's putting together a narrative about the two that's interesting. I'm not sure why you use the word "pretend" in describing (b) but not in describing (a).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:12 PM
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I would put Yoo on the top 5 list, along with Bush, Cheney, Addington, Ashcroft, and Gonzales. (I don't think that this was what Ashcroft objected to exactly, but if it was, it put Yoo in the top four as the hands-on member of the group.) There may be one, or a few more, but he's high in the list.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:14 PM
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5 is 6, 4 is 5.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:16 PM
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364: Guess, Parsimon. Why would he say "pretend"?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:18 PM
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365: I'd put Rumsfeld & Tenet higher on the list than Ashcroft.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:19 PM
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Black is white, up is down.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:23 PM
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Week one of the kinder and gentler Unfogged has not gone well, if you ask me.

I don't know about that. Also, Rousseau is not a newcomer.

Since the big "new people ostracized by cliquishness" furor, I've been keeping an eye out for new people who have jumped right in without being ostracized by cliquishness. There's been two in two days, so far.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:32 PM
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OT: Someone gave me Pinetop Perkins' Cd: Born in the Delta. Outstanding disk!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:35 PM
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OK, is it the case that we have decided not to do what I just did, and that we're committed to being accepting of this kind of thing? I don't remember any consensus, and I found Rousseau obnoxious. It's like we invited him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:43 PM
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363: Emerson, I am not here to poison your well. And even if I were, I normally don't even have a tenth of the time it takes to post at this rate, so you needn't worry.

But your reaction just doesn't make sense to me.
Everyone else was like, "Rousseau, that idea is dumb, and you're kind of an asshole, and here are some reasons why your idea is dumb."

You said, "Rousseau, that idea is dumb, and you're kind of an asshole, and you're not invited to our party."

In fact, you say, you can't even dignify my ludicrousness with a response. Well, that's the kind of thing that only works in an echo chamber, which is what I was worried about in the first place. But it turns out the Mineshaft isn't an echo chamber, because people gave me reasons for my idiocy, rather than just calling me an idiot. And that's pretty sweet. See #370.

So. I'll say it again: it's clear that I need to do a lot more reading in order to think constructively about this topic. So, everyone, thanks, good point, moving on.


Posted by: Rousseau | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:47 PM
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361: b) has been asserted by the stras-macmanus caucus, in the sense that the depredations of Bushco are part and parcel of the imperial tendency of the post (WWII/McKinley/Monroe Doctrine) U.S. I don't think it's to be dismissed on its face.

As I see it, the idea that things have gone unprecedentedly horrible since 2000 is advanced mostly by people who came of political age in the Clinton years. They may have preferred Reich over Rubin, but they don't tend to think that United Fruit ever ran the show.

(Was DS arguing that the b) philosophy was one of Pollyannish continuity, or of radical myopia? I am genuinely not sure.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:48 PM
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OK, fine. So now we're going to get more dumb assholes. We have a full quote of non-dumb people already, some of whom are not assholes.

For me, Yoo is a hotbutton topic, whereas for you, it's apparently something to chat ignorantly and amiably about.

Furthermore, I still think you were taunting. Your first few posts and the sequence of posts lead me to think that. There was a an initial challenge, a fair amount of snark (OK in happy times), and not much information.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:51 PM
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367: Gosh, Emerson, I don't know. Try this:

a) people who see pretend that something extremely out of the ordinary has happened since 2000

b) people who want to pretend see that the current trends are all of a piece with politics of yore.

There's something to be said for the reformulation of (a) -- it's what's been in the works for some time now, taken to the nth degree -- but aside from that, you make me really tired.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:54 PM
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Shorter Rousseau: I concede.

Shorter Mineshaft: You can't concede! You're banned!

Back on topic: first against the wall should be the revolutionaries. Clearly, they're trouble. Next should be thier executioners. Then their executioners. And so on. Social justice is recursive.


Posted by: Nickles | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:55 PM
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As you do me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:56 PM
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That's just age, you two.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:59 PM
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I'll continue to tire parsimon.

People who say that something different and bad has happened since 2001 with regard to civil liberties, etc., include almost everyone who cares about civil liberties at all.

People who say it's no big deal include Bush supporters, people who actually opposed to civil liberties, people who haven't been paying attention, and people who think that there never have been any civil liberties in this country and we need a violent revolution. And some of these people are pretending.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:04 PM
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380: True. But most of them aren't pretending, because almost all of them are in the third of your four categories.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:06 PM
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361: DS, I think the continuity argument and the discontinuity argument can each be put in the service of different conclusions.

We can use continuity argument as you do, and suggest that things have gotten really fucked up in a way they were not before. From this point of view, the current powers-that-be are uniquely culpable - and the discontinuity argument is an attempt to suggest that things really aren't all that fucked up.

The alternative (and I think this is what strasmangelo does) is to deploy the continuity argument to suggest that things have always been really fucked up in this country. This makes continuity an indictment of, say, Bill Clinton, and not an exoneration of Bush. And the discontinuity argument becomes, in this reading, an effort to excuse Clinton and his predecessors.

I wonder which frame comes closest to parsimon's view. I suspect that if strasmangelo had said the exact same thing as parsimon, that Emerson would be more sympathetic - and perhaps rightly so.

For my part, I'm more sympathetic to the DS view on this. I think the differences of the current century are not mere differences of degree, but of kind.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:14 PM
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380: wtf. You have added "with regard to civil liberties." Well, no shit. Who the hell says "it's no big deal" in that regard?

Sure, stras and McManus hammer on the continuity, but if you're pasting on to them some uncaring attitude toward the recent erosion of our civil liberties, you must surely be exaggerating.

This makes me seriously impatient, John. You picking a fight by painting these positions in such absurdly stark and insupportable terms, or what?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:14 PM
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365

"I would put Yoo on the top 5 list, along with Bush, Cheney, Addington, Ashcroft, and Gonzales. (I don't think that this was what Ashcroft objected to exactly, but if it was, it put Yoo in the top four as the hands-on member of the group.) There may be one, or a few more, but he's high in the list."

So your top six consists of Bush, Cheney and four lawyers. In my opinion this is absurd. Lawyers aren't that important. My list of people more responsible than Yoo would include every pro-torture Senator. Every pro-torture House member in a leadership position. Every pro-torture member of the CIA leadership, every pro-torture member of the military leadership, every pro-torture member of the cabinet and other top Bush advisors. If it is true that the Clinton adminstration turned over people to other countries to be tortured then include a bunch of them also.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:15 PM
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My list of people more responsible than Yoo would include every pro-torture Senator. Every pro-torture House member in a leadership position. Every pro-torture member of the CIA leadership, every pro-torture member of the military leadership, every pro-torture member of the cabinet and other top Bush advisors.

Pro or anti, one Senator or Rep doesn't have any effect on what the Executive does secretly. If you could get a veto-proof majority of Congress interested, they could shut this sort of thing down, but that doesn't make each one more valuable than the guy drafting the opinions that are going to keep torturers out of jail.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:21 PM
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338

"328, 329: Ned's got it. His job wasn't to write a brief coming up with the strongest legal argument for whatever the bastards asking him the question wanted to do (as Shearer notes, that is my job). His job was to render a neutral opinion about his understanding of what the law properly should be read to allow. And the memo is a piece of advocacy, not a neutral opinion."

It is said above (289) that the memo was actually signed by some guy named Jay Bybee. In which case it was presumedly Bybee's responsibility to render an neutral opinion.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:24 PM
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371:Good stuff. Roosevelt Sykes is also good piano blues, off the top of my head.

On the recent part of the thread, I no longer worry about Emerson playing with the trolls. We used to fight about it. I try to pretend like the righties don't exist, because my sincere responses scare moderates and even liberals. I grow fangs and froth.

374: I remain very very partisan and am probably too forgiving of Democratic foreign policy because of my visceral loathing of Republicans and conservatives. I forgive LBJ, for instance.

And the conservative ascendancy since Nixon is really special, a conspiracy to reverse the New Deal and Post-War Consensus (Hague, Geneva, UN, etc) that merely uses foreign & economic policy as a means. LBJ may have sacrificed millions to save millions, Republicans sacrifice millions to enslave millions. Intent matters at least a little.

Krugman talks about the Great Compression. WWII was a necessary condition. The world really sucks.

Anyway. Bushco is very special. I think for instance torture is consistent with their ideology, wheras it would be a sacrifice for HRC. Bush enjoys torture.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:24 PM
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James, I think you underestimate the importance of lawyers. The administration had to go to considerable trouble to get opinions they could use in writing - they went to the point of hassling Ashcroft in intensive care to get a opinion. There is a reason for this.

Even a pro-torture CIA agent is going to think twice about actually carrying out torture absent an ass-covering legal opinion. And an anti-torture CIA agent - especially one who uses the law as a reason for his dissent - has his legs (figuratively) cut out from under him when the Justice Department says torture is okay.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:28 PM
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386: There's a conceivable scenario where Bybee says to Yoo, "I already know the counterarguments against increased executive discretion to torture whomever we please, please just tell me the pro- arguments without discussing whether or not these overcome the counters." However, given all of Yoo's behavior (public speeches and writing) prior to and since that memo there is no reason at all to believe that actually happened. Also, I don't mean to be overly harsh, but saying "some guy named Jay Bybee" suggests, though doesn't prove, that you are pretty uninformed on this topic.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:31 PM
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Re: continuity and discontinuity, I don't think it's wrong to say the US has always been is some key senses disconnected from its fine rhetoric about freedom and human rights. The torture methods being pressed into service now by Bush were developed decades previous, for instance. So I'm certainly not giving the previous century of American history a pass.

Nevertheless there is a vast qualitative difference between American politics prior to and post-2000 (a difference for which the stage was set during the Nineties, and not primarily by Clinton) and especially post-2001, and I think this difference is evident enough that you have to be wilfully blind to be unaware of it. Indeed, this difference reflects the specific political goals of right-wing factions who specifically sought to gut American democracy and resurrect the Pax Americana at any cost, in ways that they've talked about pretty openly.

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to some versions of the continuity argument that emphasize how fucked up America has always been, because for many (especially conservative dissidents) the current turn in American politics has inspired rhetoric about how America "used to be the good guys." It ain't quite that simple. But pressed too far (for example to the point of arguing that Iraq was the "inevitable" result of this that and the other thing) it's mistaken.

But specifically the kind of continuity I am denouncing is the kind of continuity that both buys into the idealized American past, and thinks that the current politics is pretty much status quo for that past.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:34 PM
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Bush enjoys torture

Did you look into his eyes and see his soul?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:36 PM
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I try to pretend like the righties don't exist, because my sincere responses scare moderates and even liberals. I grow fangs and froth.

Some wolfsbane will clear that right up, I hear.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:48 PM
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I can't believe people are defending Yoo. Did I just wander into the Star Chamber?

Yoo is not some low-level bureaucrat who is just doing his job. He is a high-level advisor to the President and one of the chief architects of the pro-torture policies. And he has gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of the President's "strong executive" position. See, for example, this NYTimes op-ed, where Yoo argues against "obselete legislation" and in support of "a reinvigorated presidency."


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:49 PM
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391: He has a history with small animals. And heated coathangers and fraternity pledges. There is an anecdote about jokes in a cabinet meeting, related by an unnamed source called Colin Powell. There is his incessant cruelty toward subordinates, and little history of kindness. Endless anecdotes of gratuitous cruelty.

There is the torture.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:51 PM
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389

"... Also, I don't mean to be overly harsh, but saying "some guy named Jay Bybee" suggests, though doesn't prove, that you are pretty uninformed on this topic."

I admit I had never heard of Jay Bybee. I had heard of Yoo because of all the abuse he gets. Which reinforces my original point. Why does Yoo get the abuse and Bybee who was his boss get a pass? Why isn't Bybee on Emerson's list.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:53 PM
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391: Quoth George W., describing Karla Faye Tucker's interview on Larry King: "Please don't kill me."

This is not a nice man, TLL. He's not a guy you want to have a beer with; he's the drunk at the end of the bar spouting gratuitously cruel nonsense.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:56 PM
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Man, there's been enough thematic drift now that I can't even tell what the argument is. Somewhere along the line I seem to have become associated with something.

My position: free-market capitalism is death. Private property is anti-human. We are destroying this planet in a spirit of desperate blindness. Perpetual growth is insupportable. Domination as a way of being is killing us. It shows signs of taking the rest of this beautiful planet with us. I don't see any defense for that. We're pathetic, and we once thought we were tragic, but now we're just stupid assholes.

But you know, that's just ranting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:56 PM
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Yoo actually wrote that memo, Bybee just signed his name to it. Yoo wrote a number of other memos too, including some before Bybee became head of OLC. Some of them he also signed. I do think Bybee's gotten too much of a pass though. As far as lawyers go, I'd put Yoo as more responsible than Bybee but less so than Addington or Gonzales.

Now that Addington's more widely known, my nominations for most-overlooked-contributors to the torture scandal: Stephen Cambone, General William Boykin, James Elmer Mitchell, Bruce Jessen, General Stanley McChrystal.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:02 PM
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No, seriously. Parenting has a severe negative effect on the personality of everyone i've ever seen it happen to. And to rbing geneder into it, it amplifies women's worst characteristics, much like coke brings out the worst in men. And soccer implies all the most faddish and pseudoselfless taste-lacking qualities of contemporary bourgeois suburbs. They stand mostly as a mockery of workingclass mothers, who actually do the brunt of familial work, destroying themselves and everyone around them, and blight compared to upper class mothers who at least have quality snobbery. Also the sublimated form of status acts that they engage in are harder to point out and fight than the open ones that are characteristically masculine.

Maybe i should mention i don't really believe in 'evil people', per se, just structural factors. which maybe 263 is tangentially getting at. also i don't really beleive in "THE WALL" so to speak. I'm all for political violence, but it needs to be an outside force that only threatens. Once it actually takes over, it just makes things worse. i do loving-kindness meditation slash prayer every day.


Posted by: socc | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:02 PM
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And yeah, I looked into his eyes and saw his soul. It ain't that hard, i9f you have a paranoid pre-autistic level of bullshit repellent. I very often don't hear what people are saying I am staring so hard into their eyes. And yes, it makes people uncomfortable around me.

But that isn't even necessary. Try watching film of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. Try watching Bush with the sound off. He is a jerk, and not really a good actor. Part of the social contract most play is to pay attention to words. I don't. Nobody has ever sold me anything.

I was thinking of the War with Iran, and the four times I have seen Bush scared whimpery. Florida, 9/11, Ohio 2004, and after meeting the leader of China. He wasn't scared before Iraq.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:03 PM
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395: I'm happy to add Bybee to the list. Doesn't mean I'm willing to give Yoo a pass. It's not a zero-sum game, and there's plenty of blame to spread around.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:03 PM
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wait, that was me.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:04 PM
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jerks and good leaders are almost the same, if you blink.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:05 PM
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Sorry, my 397 rant was motivated in part by 390's:

specifically the kind of continuity I am denouncing is the kind of continuity that both buys into the idealized American past

and 382's:

The alternative (and I think this is what strasmangelo does) is to deploy the continuity argument to suggest that things have always been really fucked up in this country

397 was just a ranting way of saying that Yeah, things have been fucked up in this country for a long time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:05 PM
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yoyo is Bybee?

yoyo you jerk, why'd you have to rationalize torture?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:07 PM
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i think its easy to confuse the actual state of the country, as people's lives are, and how the existing forces in terms of instututions, frames, economic forces, etc will be pushing things in the future. and those are hard to read clearly, and pretty chancy anyway.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:08 PM
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396. Spare me. An axe murderer asking for mercy is pretty low on the totem pole for clemency.

394. Garden variety bullying, writ large. Saying someone, even someone you consider odious, enjoys torture is pretty strong. We're not talking Uday here. Bur clearly, something has gone terribly wrong in our country that we even have to be talking about this.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:09 PM
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About Bush being scared those four times. He is a bully and a coward, and gets scared when over his head. I don't think he was scared of losing in Florida and Ohio, I think he was scared about handling what it was going to take to win. He doesn't like equal fights, fair competitions. His facial expression alone in Ohio is adequate evidence to me that 2005 was cold stolen. 9/11 was 9/11.

I think China, behind closed doors, told him not to attack Iraq, and told him what would happen if he did. A real man slapped the punk down. I don't know if Cheney can re-attach Bush's manliness.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:11 PM
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408:Fuck "Iraq" s/b "Iran" of course


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:12 PM
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407: Seems like an odd reading of my comment. I wasn't remarking on Bush's refusal to offer clemency.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:13 PM
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393: No, IA we're not defending Yoo.

We're having a nuanced argument about the whether Yoo is really important at all and how important, and whether his legal arguments are sort of OK or really awful, and whether he's culpable or society's really to blame, and whether this is really awful or just more of the same, and whether certain people are lying, pretending, or honestly mistaken, and whether Rousseau is an ignorant asshole or a troll, and exactly how far the we should take nicer- friendlier-ness, and whether McManus and I are murderous, and whether I lose my temper every week for mysterious reasons or actually have some good reason.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:14 PM
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411 made me laugh out loud.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:17 PM
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410. Sorry, pf, I'm unfamiliar with the interview. I took it to mean that KFT asked for clemency, but was refused.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:17 PM
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413: Ah - that's one of those stories that gets repeated a lot among those of us with Bush Derangement Syndrome. Wikipedia has the scoop.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:22 PM
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"394. Garden variety bullying, writ large. Saying someone, even someone you consider odious, enjoys torture is pretty strong. We're not talking Uday here. Bur clearly, something has gone terribly wrong in our country that we even have to be talking about this."

They really aren't that far apart. Enjoying others pain and bullying is a pretty short hop skip or jump away from torturing, as long as you don't have any social structures standing in your way.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:29 PM
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413: Yes, she asked for clemency (and many others asked for clemency on her behalf), but clemency was denied.

The point is, in an interview with Tucker Carlson (recounted here), Bush actually mocked her appeal:

"'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I [Carlson] must look shocked -- ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel -- because he immediately stops smirking.

This is one cold-hearted bastard we are talking about here.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:29 PM
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413: Short version: regardless of Tucker's crimes, Bush's behaviour still lessens him in many eyes. Outside of officially-sanctioned hagiography, stories about Bush are replete with just this kind of weird, chilling shit -- which we only rarely get to see.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:30 PM
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Also relevant to the burning question of whether George W. Bush loves torture is this 1967 New York Times article in which George W. Bush downplays and defends an illegal, "sadistic and obscene" fraternity hazing practice.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:38 PM
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I am not going to try to defend what can't be defended, but Bush Derangement Syndrome is worse than Clinton Derangement Syndrome in that it allows one to ignore the Very Big Problem , due to the messenger's delerium. Or maybe Bob is right. Death to america!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:41 PM
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And as long as we're on the subject of Bush away from the dreaded Klieg lights, I've always thought this video of Bush roasting a friend at his wedding is funny.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:42 PM
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I really, really, really hate the term "Bush Derangement Syndrome."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:44 PM
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420. Example XXXIII of why I will never run for public office.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:44 PM
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(so much that I won't even use "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" even if it's accurate.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:44 PM
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There's no Bush Derangement Syndrome. The phrase is a smear picked up by the targets as a joke. Bush is as bad as people say he is, but people desperate to maintain the fiction normality pretend that the Cassandras are deranged.

Clinton derangement syndrome was a hoax dreamed up by a bunch of lying hysterics with the help of deep-pockets ideologues.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:45 PM
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That's because you're all crrrrrazy and hysterical, Katherine! Calm down, now. The grownups are applying electric shocks to the bad man's genitals.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:45 PM
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401

"... It's not a zero-sum game, and there's plenty of blame to spread around. "

Actually I think assigning responsibility is a zero-sum game. You have 100% total of responsibility and can spread it around as you choose. I start by giving about 90% to Bush. Yoo doesn't seem that important to me although he is probably in the top 1000.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:47 PM
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ZOMG Katherine I used to get emails from people with a list of Clinton's "crimes". I could not believe that serious people could beleive that shit. When confronted with (pardon) BDS, I thought "more of the same, flip side". Some truth in that, but more that is just not kosher.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:48 PM
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388

"Even a pro-torture CIA agent is going to think twice about actually carrying out torture absent an ass-covering legal opinion. And an anti-torture CIA agent - especially one who uses the law as a reason for his dissent - has his legs (figuratively) cut out from under him when the Justice Department says torture is okay."

Is the CIA even responsible for the worst abuses? How many prisoners have they killed?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:51 PM
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When confronted with (pardon) BDS, I thought "more of the same, flip side".

I'd make the same comment to this as I did in 361.2 about the false comforts of curmudgeonliness.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:51 PM
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429: it must be reassuring though, you know? To think "oh well, I've seen this sort of malarkey before."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:52 PM
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Shearer, you're nuts. It isn't a percentage thing.

In the executive it was a chain of command thing, and Yoo was #2 or #3 in the relevant chain of command. He was the hands-on guy. There were lots of others involved, but he was one of the very few big ones.

Of course, in the "who killed Kennedy was you and me" sense, there are millions and possibly billions of perps, but lets stay within this reality.

Is this a phase of the moon thing? This thread started out as a nasty joke, and then it got very serious in a terribly brain-dead kind of way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:52 PM
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The Clinton Death List stuff is still going around. I get that kind of thing weekly now.

The difference is on of those pesky false-true differences, Robusto. Small, but critical.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:54 PM
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Is the CIA even responsible for the worst abuses? How many prisoners have they killed?

James, how do you see this question as being relevant to my point?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:55 PM
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I used to get emails from people with a list of Clinton's "crimes"

We'll soon be getting those again, from some of America's most eminent journalists. Andrew Sullivan is already on the case.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:55 PM
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kids were asked to take random opinions and defend them. If done properly, they'd learn to be better thinkers and more empathetic human beings.

Clearly B was never a debater.

If Yoo had done it all for free, then we would have to let him off under the little-known Evil Performance Artist exception.

I laughed out loud at that, though I'm not sure why. It made me imagine an entire rogues gallery of Evil Performance Artists (Fred Phelps? The people who created the Nuremberg Files?)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:58 PM
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On a slightly different note, I really do wonder at what would motivate a decent person to run for any public office, let alone President. Is it even possible anymore? Please spare me Obama and Edwards fans. It is to weep.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:59 PM
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"Bush Derangement Syndrome" has two uses:

-It is used by Bush sympathizers to belittle Bush critics. Delong usefully embraces the word "shrill" to to co-opt another bit of language that's used this way. For the record, I was using the phrase in the Delong-ian sense.
-It is used by recent converts to Bush-loathing to describe people who had the sonofabitch figured out in, say, 2001. Krugman, who described in careful, well-reasoned detail what was wrong with Bush, is often accused of Bush Derangement Syndrome by people with an identical critique of Bush six years later.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:02 PM
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Clinton Derangement Syndrome site. This guy emails me approximately weekly. Click the links.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:03 PM
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436: I take the contrarian (though sincerely felt) view that politicians are no better or worse than the general run of humanity. The problem is that human beings are generally pretty shitty.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:03 PM
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The distinction between Clinton derangement and Bush derangement is that the Clinton-haters are, you know, actually deranged. The primary critique of Bush-haters is that they were too early


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:05 PM
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428: "Is the CIA even responsible for the worst abuses? How many prisoners have they killed?"

At least 4 or 5, I think; some of them were joint efforts and/or CIA contractors rather than agents. Plus it started with the CIA & spread outward: the guards at Abu Ghraib seeing CIA agents abuse prisoners & learning that they killed one probably contributed to what happened on the night shift.

427: excerpt from the column in which Charles Krauthammer coined "BDS":

It has been 25 years since I discovered a psychiatric syndrome (for the record: ``Secondary Mania,'' Archives of General Psychiatry, November 1978), and in the interim I haven't been looking for new ones. But it's time to don the white coat again. A plague is abroad in the land.

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

Combine that with the number of times "some things are true even if George W. Bush says them". Gah.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:07 PM
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last sentence of 441 should be:

Combine that with the number of times "some things are true even if George W. Bush says them" was used to argue in favor of invading Iraq. I was too psychotically deranged to finish my sentence, though.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:09 PM
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431

"In the executive it was a chain of command thing, and Yoo was #2 or #3 in the relevant chain of command. He was the hands-on guy. There were lots of others involved, but he was one of the very few big ones."

I am assuming we are talking about responsibility for the actual torture not responsility for some memo justifying it. In which case Yoo isn't even in the relevant chains of command which go up the military and CIA hierarchies from the torturers (the actual hands-on guys) to the President.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:13 PM
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If Krauthammer ever had the opportunity he could aspire to this man's accomplishments: Radovan Karadzic, fugitive war criminal psychiatrist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:14 PM
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Goddamnit, Shearer, quit being a moron. You assumed stupid. What the fuck are you arguing about? Your "maybe in the top thousand" is imbecile. Whatever calculus of responsibility you're using is worthless. Drop it in the trash and start over again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:16 PM
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Yoo was superfluous in the sense that if Mr. John Yoo had put his foot down and refused to write that memo, or written a memo saying torture is illegal, it wouldn't have resulted in no torture; it would have resulted in the torture memo having a different author. If he hadn't written it some other young aspiring lawyer would have; and indeed, Yoo probably wrote it because some other lawyer wouldn't (maybe they went through the directory alphabetically until they finally got a memo they could work with?).


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:25 PM
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443: James, I really think I answered this in 388, but you've ignored me and repeated the same nonsense as though my response didn't merit consideration.

Likewise, I asked a question in 433 that you've declined to answer - or even acknowledge.

Someone suggested recently that you ought to be treated as someone engaged in serious conversation. I'd like to believe it, but you're not giving me much help here.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:28 PM
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/ godwin

Yeah, and if Eichmann hadn't done it, someone else would have, so you know, a promotion and a little spare coin came his way, and no extra Jews were murdered because of his choice.

Why the quibble fest? All we had to do was say "Shut the fuck up and go to hell, Rousseau", and we could have avoided this stupidity.

And no, it wasn't me. It would have been equally stupid without me, though elss complex.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:29 PM
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I stuck up for James a couple of times, but he seems to miss the point a lot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:30 PM
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I thought of going to Balkinization snd searching for the Scott Horton piece that discusses the Nuremberg precedent for the judge or lawyer that enabled the Nazis. He was in the dock, not individual SS soldiers. Or I could try Wiki. But not in the mood.

Too busy reading Roubini on the coming worldwide hard landing/recession.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:31 PM
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433

You suggested that the CIA agents would not have continued torturing given a contrary opinion by Yoo. So Yoo would have some responsibility. But I was under the impression that much of the abuse was by low level sadists operating in an atmosphere which tolerated unlawful abuse. An atmosphere for which Bush is ultimately responsible. Experience has shown that in counter insurgency warfare torture and other abuse of prisoners by low level people is likely unless strong measures are taken to prevent (or at least minimize) it. So if Bush wanted people tortured he didn't need to make it legal he just had to frustrate efforts to prevent it. He didn't really need Yoo for that.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:31 PM
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448: All we had to do was say "Shut the fuck up and go to hell, Rousseau", and we could have avoided this stupidity.

We can't have the Left leaving people like Rousseau. That way it would be all our fault if he then went and did something stupid like voting for Giuliani in the next Presidential election.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:35 PM
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James, go away. Yoo played a role, and we blame him for it. And it was a pretty significant role in the executive branch, even if someone else would have played this role if he didn't. And the Yoo memo had its importance, even though it didn't affect every case and even though other people played a role too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:35 PM
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m. negra: Richardson and Ruckelshaus quit rather than fire Archibald Cox. Cox still got fired, but the American people understood the nature of the crisis better because two Republican functionaries publicly stepped down rather than do Nixon's crooked bidding.

It was the unprincipled solicitor general - a fellow named Robert Bork - who actually did the deed.

If an attorney general or two had publicly quit rather than endorse torture, events would have played out significantly differently, in my opinion. The problem is, the entire Republican Party has trouble summoning that much principle.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:36 PM
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441

"At least 4 or 5, I think; some of them were joint efforts and/or CIA contractors rather than agents. Plus it started with the CIA & spread outward: the guards at Abu Ghraib seeing CIA agents abuse prisoners & learning that they killed one probably contributed to what happened on the night shift."

I was unaware of this and was assuming the CIA was professional enough to torture people without accidently killing them and that most of the deaths were from amateurs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:40 PM
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So if Bush wanted people tortured he didn't need to make it legal he just had to frustrate efforts to prevent it. He didn't really need Yoo for that.

What's your narrative here, James? That Bush may not have wanted people tortured? Then how do you explain the fact that he solicited Yoo's legal support for torture?

Or is your narrative that Bush didn't need to put a legal face on it? If so, why did he solicit Yoo's legal support for torture?

Any attempt to exculpate Yoo seems to hinge on the idea that Yoo didn't actually do anything that mattered. Again: I addressed this in 388 and you haven't offered anything in response except simple contradiction. What's your explanation for the behavior of everyone involved?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:53 PM
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I do not think Yoo 'matters' in the sense that he pulled some causal trigger that unleashed all the ugliness we are aware of (and who knows what else). The loathsomeness of Yoo is more that he is a reflection of the grotesque that is the capitulation of the media (and the public) to a nationalistic hysteria. Yoo is Cheney, and Bush, and Rice, and that jerk down the hall at work, and everyone else who justified depraved goals with the most facile of justifications and who were then heaped with praise for their leadership or bravery or legal scholarship or managerial expertise. Yoo is a stand-in for every shitty argument uttered by every fool that was ever met with credulity and praise.

If the torture memo were a research paper, Yoo probably would have had trouble passing a moderately rigorous Ethics course . . . And yet he teaches at Berkeley and was the voice of the Administration (and by extension the voice of the American People). A depraved fool, like all the rest of this administration, except this one is smeared with the legitimacy of academia.


Posted by: Alfi G | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:53 PM
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James, I also recommend one of my favorite Hilzoy posts, which covers, among other things, why responsibility isn't zero sum.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:54 PM
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445

"Goddamnit, Shearer, quit being a moron. You assumed stupid ..."

I assumed this because I originally asked in 332 "Is he even on the top 100 list of people responsible for the fact that the US has been using torture?"

If we are talking about responsibility for the memo then of course Yoo is in the top 10.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:56 PM
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I think it's far from assured that if Yoo hadn't been willing to write the memos, then someone else would have done so. OLC is a small shop, and a couple of people taking a principled stand could well have made a big difference, even without resignations.

The memo that I read was utter crap too -- I don't remember which it was -- and I would've sent it back if I got such a thing from a first year lawyer. Silly leaps of logic, quotes out of context from obviously distinguishable cases, the idiotic presumption that unreviewability is the same as permissibility.

But, it served its purpose: people who were worried about potential criminal liability were in effect immunized by the thing.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:03 PM
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there were many Yoo memos, not one. The administration apparently thought it was necessary to get OLC opinions authorizing all of this. And it's not clear to me what would have happened if Yoo had refused to provide them. Comey & Goldsmith left, but they probably got the NSA surveillelance program narrowed a bit with their threats of resignation. A couple OLC people making a paper trail saying: "this is a war crime & a felony" might have made a difference. Or not, but Yoo was involved in so many decisions because he was unusually willing NOT to say no, ever--the only one who compares is Addington. Ashcroft did not seem to particularly care about whether we tortured terrorism suspects as a moral matter, but he did object to excessive administration monkeying around in his department, & did sometimes back his subordinates when they told the administration: "this isn't legal", so it was probably MORE possible for OLC lawyers to do the right thing under him than under Gonzales. It was probably also more possible for a DOJ lawyer to conclude that waterboarding, hypothermia & "long time standing" were torture before doing so would have branded quite so many members of the administration as felons. I don't necessarily think that Yoo could have actually prevented everything by himself, or that his collaboration in particular was essential, but I don't think the assumption that he had no real power to change the outcome is correct. (Even if it were I think he'd be responsible--the view that responsibility is zero sum is highly idiosyncratic).

455: well, now you know. Abdul Wali. Manadel Jamadi. Unknown detainee killed at The Salt Pit. Abdul Jaleel. Abed Mowhoush. In general, I would not trust or assume assume that torture will be carefully applied & limited by "trained professionals", especially given the CIA's propensity to hire contractors & non-U.S. nationals to do some of the dirty work in so they can argue that a prisoner wasn't in U.S. custody even if the CIA was really calling the shots.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:04 PM
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If an attorney general or two had publicly quit rather than endorse torture

Didn't Comey and Goldsmith resign over this issue? And someone leaked the torture memos, after all. And [deletes rest of post based on analogy ban].


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:05 PM
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My last sentence may not have been clear enough for JBS. Yoo was critical to the torture policy, because when OLC submits a memo saying that something is legal, people in the government can rely on it, and not be subject to prosecution. People were balking at torture (we really saw this in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan, when the CIA and the DOD prosecutors essentially went on strike) and needed the reassurance that Yoo's memos gave. This was a huge deal, and I'm certainly willing to put him in with the top ten people without whom it would not have happened.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:08 PM
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Proud to be pwned by Katherine.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:08 PM
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and was assuming the CIA was professional enough to torture people without accidently killing them and that most of the deaths were from amateurs.

Oh well, yes, the professional torturers versus the rank-and-file amateurs, to be sure. The clean break versus all that blood and gore ... so unsightly! and it can make for some really embarrassing media coverage, if and when the reporters happen to be paying attention (which, luckily enough, they mostly always happen not to be).

There should be standards, of course, duly normalized and professionalized, and perhaps scholarships for the most promising of the pupils. Money well spent! because torture is no child's play, after all.

That soul is craven and cowardly that would sign on for torture, whether carefully administered by well-trained professionals, or just amateurly enforced by some thugs in a street brawl. We used to have a name for such a soul, but that shit is so old-fashioned, so pre-911 (which changed everything, of course).

Are we achieving our country yet?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:18 PM
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Ummmm, stupid question... why are people actually arguing with Shearer? Is this another side effect of the Great Soul-Searching, or something?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:20 PM
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Actually, Goldsmith's resignation was related to his withdrawal of Yoo's torture memo, but not in a Saturday night massacre sort of way:

A week after the leak of Yoo's August 2002 memo, Goldsmith withdrew the opinion. Goldsmith made the decision himself, in consultation with Philbin and Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, both of whom, Goldsmith says, agreed it was the right thing to do. He then told Ashcroft, who was, Goldsmith writes, "unbelievably magnanimous: it had happened on his watch, and he could have overruled me, and he didn't." Goldsmith was concerned, however, that the White House might overrule him. So he made a strategic decision: on the same day that he withdrew the opinion, he submitted his resignation, effectively forcing the administration to choose between accepting his decision and letting him leave quietly, or rejecting it and turning his resignation into a big news story. "If the story had come out that the U.S. government decided to stick by the controversial opinions that led the head of the Office of Legal Counsel to resign, that would have looked bad," Goldsmith told me. "The timing was designed to ensure that the decision stuck."

But he didn't go public until much later, obviously, and he didn't write a memo about any specific technqiues. And his withdrawal of the Yoo memo did stick in that they backed away from some of the more ludicrous arguments, but they did not change any of the techniques (in part because they replaced Ashcroft with Gonzales; in part because the conservative "good guys" at OLC were not actually ever all that great.)

Comey resigned later, & I don't remember reading reports that it was specifically linked to torture issues.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:21 PM
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Shearer was pretty funny in those threads, DS. Pretty... approachable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:21 PM
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Hmmmmm.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:26 PM
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What an awful thread. I don't accept the blame, either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:35 PM
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"kids were asked to take random opinions and defend them. If done properly, they'd learn to be better thinkers and more empathetic human beings.

Clearly B was never a debater. "

God, i really wish i had a copy of the "counterplan/advantage turn/plan": nuke russia/nukes good that St. Eds ran the one year.

Also, debate made me decide feminism was a stupid idea (well, and anarchy and deep ecology and hegemony and lots of other things). Entertaining, though.

REally, you do not want people doing this. An idea made extreme enough to be tough for others to answer is also an idea that become crazy-looking.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:02 PM
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"James, I also recommend one of my favorite Hilzoy posts, which covers, among other things, why responsibility isn't zero sum."

Ok, my intuition has been that responsibility is zero sum. This is not unique to me as juries are sometimes asked to assign responsibility in a zero-sum way. However I acknowledge that this is not obvious and perhaps I should think about it more.

Hilzoy is equating responsibilty and blame which I am not sure is correct.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:03 PM
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No, it is ogged's responsibility. As the first comment noted.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:05 PM
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also partly my responsibility as I never, never shut up about stuff like this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:07 PM
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Was this a bad thread? I haven't read the last 150 or so comments, but it seems like one of the more comprehensive condemnations of Yoo that you'll ever see.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:15 PM
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475: you're excluding the Yoo apologias.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:20 PM
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No, they were kind of essential.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:20 PM
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You're excluding Emerson's indigestion.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:22 PM
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That's the secret sauce in every Unfogged recipe.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:23 PM
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This is a bit of a digression from Yoo in particular, but not from the subject of political anger. Bob McManus: I had occasion to think of you in a non-ironic, non-complaining sort of way tonight. I was poking through eMusic in search of stuff I enjoyed in college and discovered Planet P Project's 2004 album 1931: Go Out Dancing, Part 1. Dunno if you've heard it? (Or have the foggiest clue who Planet P Project is/are, come to that.) I'm not sure I've heard a better sustained expression of political anger in music since maybe Bruce Cockburn's "Call It Democracy" back about 1987, and it's got probably the best use of newsreel clips from '30s Germany and Japan to support the "same shit again" theme that I can recall, period. Seemed like something that should be in your mix - darned good stuff.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:44 PM
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As far as Yoo goes...

When I took US Constitutional history, the professorial stance was that the Original Dads explicitly didn't try to make every bad thing illegal, because they weren't out to establish a theocratic state or its secular equivalent. Some things that ought not happen remain entirely legal, and it depends on people making moral judgments to stay within the bounds of morality. The thing is, this requires people to, you know, make choices beyond just "can it in some sense be construed as legal". Even if Yoo had written a good justification of torture, as opposed to the Constitution-ignoring, precedent-ignoring piece of crap he did, nothing in his job description suggests "play this card to get out of morality free".


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:50 PM
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480:People who say, and you know who you are, that 80s music sucked need to hunt up Bruce Cockburn, Humans & Inner City Front are very high up on my list of albums.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 5:46 AM
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Ok, my intuition has been that responsibility is zero sum. This is not unique to me as juries are sometimes asked to assign responsibility in a zero-sum way. However I acknowledge that this is not obvious and perhaps I should think about it more.

A possibly useful example on the non-zero-sum nature of responsibility. Joe Citizen is sitting peacefully at home when Hapless Victim runs up onto his front porch: "Joe, you've got to let me in and call the police. Ax Murderer is chasing me, and is going to kill me." Joe believes Hapless, and has time to safely let Hapless in and call the cops, but instead leaves him out on the front porch as Ax appears and kills him. Now, Ax is 100% responsible for Hapless's death, right? He'd have killed him without assistance if opportunity offered. But it seems very wrong to say that Joe bears no moral responsibility at all for Hapless's death.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 6:07 AM
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LB, check your mail, pronto.


Posted by: collapsed | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 6:24 AM
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390 said: Nevertheless there is a vast qualitative difference between American politics prior to and post-2000 (a difference for which the stage was set during the Nineties, and not primarily by Clinton) and especially post-2001, and I think this difference is evident enough that you have to be wilfully blind to be unaware of it. Indeed, this difference reflects the specific political goals of right-wing factions who specifically sought to gut American democracy and resurrect the Pax Americana at any cost, in ways that they've talked about pretty openly.

Well, if you look at the period in which the War on Vietnam went its merry way, it wasn't exactly a rose garden either. Secret bombings killed hundreds of thousands, US military run assasination projects, not to mention what happened to Chile or domestically there's the National Guard murdering students, the FBI trying to kill or discredit Black and student political leaders, etc. Not all of that can be blamed on the Republicans.

What you need to accept if you want America to be true to its ideals as expresed by the Founding Daddies is that it so far never has been, that in the background of even its best periods there was oppression, war and torture, that from the start those who ruled America have always been imperialists.

In this it's not unique: all European countries were, when they had the chance.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 7:25 AM
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485: Interestingly, though, the U.S. arrived at a consensus in the '70s that most of this stuff was a bad idea. That consensus held through 2001.

You also ignore the realignment in American politics that shifted overt racism as a policy to the Republicans. And certainly the business that has taken place since 2000 has been spearheaded by Republicans. The key fault of the Democrats (and others) in this regard is passivity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 7:31 AM
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484: Read, done, responded to, request made in return.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 7:45 AM
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Bob, @482: Humans in particular is one of those "this is the soundtrack of my life" albums, both things I hope for and things I fear.

Politicalfootball, @486: Certainly the big driving force in the degeneration of American politics is the movement aiming to undo everything back to the Gilded Age, and in some cases further. But as Katherine can point out and may, if she's still reading this thread, some of the really evil precedents were set under Democrats, too - the war party's always had two wings, even if one gets exercised more than the other.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:43 AM
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486: actually, the US got its ass kicked in Vietnam and it took two decades to work the courage up to get into proper wars again, though the evilness continued all through the time your supposed consensus held: Afghanistan, Central America, Indonesia, supporting Pol Pot after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia usw.

But you're right that having an active war on does make it easier for all sort of abuses to pile up in the system again.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 10:06 AM
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"It is NOT an aide to prosecution. It is an impedement to prosecution. CIA agents who tortured prisoners (in some cases to death) can use the OLC memo to argue that they are immune from prosecution, & most people I talk about this seems to think the argument would work. ..."

How does this work? How can you claim to have relied on a secret memo?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 10:40 AM
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It wasn't kept secret from the people relying on it. The memo gets shown around the top of the chain of command; underlings expressing concern about the legality of their actions are assured that the lawyers have vetted it, and what they're being asked to do is legal. This sort of assurance is generally enough to shield them from personal criminal liability.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 10:45 AM
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There's a statute called the Classified Information Procedure's Act that governs the use of classified evidence at trial. I don't know all the details. I do know that if the gov't can't/won't declassify material that's necessary for your defense, they might have to drop the charges against you. Of course, there's a good chance that a DOJ interested in prosecuting CIA agents would also declassify the relevant OLC memos anyway.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 10:45 AM
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483

"A possibly useful example on the non-zero-sum nature of responsibility. Joe Citizen is sitting peacefully at home when Hapless Victim runs up onto his front porch: "Joe, you've got to let me in and call the police. Ax Murderer is chasing me, and is going to kill me." Joe believes Hapless, and has time to safely let Hapless in and call the cops, but instead leaves him out on the front porch as Ax appears and kills him. Now, Ax is 100% responsible for Hapless's death, right? He'd have killed him without assistance if opportunity offered. But it seems very wrong to say that Joe bears no moral responsibility at all for Hapless's death."

Ok, suppose in my zero sum way I assign 99% responsibility to Ax and 1% to Joe Citizen. You would assign 100% to Ax and what percent to Joe Citizen?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 10:52 AM
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"It wasn't kept secret from the people relying on it. The memo gets shown around the top of the chain of command; underlings expressing concern about the legality of their actions are assured that the lawyers have vetted it, and what they're being asked to do is legal. This sort of assurance is generally enough to shield them from personal criminal liability."

Suppose the underling never expressed concerns and never received assurances. Is he still ok? Suppose the underling is told it is legal without any reference to lawyers? Ok? Suppose the superiors lie and say it has been vetted when it hasn't been are the underlings still ok?

And what is the burden of proof? Does the government have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no such assurance was received or does the defendent have to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt or otherwise) that he relied on such an assurance?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:00 AM
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Percentages don't work well at all in my thinking. Say rather than the Ax Murderer, it's a grizzly bear, but Joe's actions are the same. Now Joe's the only one who did anything wrong, so it's hard not giving him all of the moral responsibility for Hapless's death, given that he's the only bad actor in the problem (to get around the acting/failing to act issue, in case someone wants to bring it up, say the door was open and Joe slammed it in Hapless's face).

The fact that in the one case the other causative actor is a person with moral responsibility and in the other case it's a bear without moral responsibility shouldn't change the import of Joe's actions, but if you start talking about percentages of moral responsibility it seems as if it has to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:01 AM
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492

What I meant is how can you claim to have relied on a memo that you never saw because it was secret?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:02 AM
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494: I'd actually have to do some research to answer those in detail, given that this isn't an area of professional expertise, and I'm not sure that they all have determinate answers: national security is an area where litigation, including criminal prosecution, tends to get avoided whenever possible and so precedent is thin on the ground. Given that, I'm not going to bother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:07 AM
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Why do you assume it's a secret from the people doing/ordering the torturing? And even if the text isn't given to them, an assurance from a superior that the memo exists, and authorizes the conduct at issue is probably going to be enough to avoid scienter on a reasonable doubt standard.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:39 AM
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The memo was written because the people ordering the conduct wanted the protection it provides. There is no chance that they don't have a reliance argument. The smallest fish might or might not have an actual reliance argument -- that is, they may never have been told 'don't worry, it's OK' -- but (a) the government is going to have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt and (b) nullification becomes a real issue.

There have been prosecutions, and such defenses have been raised. Look at the court martial of Damien Corsetti: it's not exactly the same issue, but it's pretty close. His argument -- The president of the United States doesn't know what the rules are. The secretary of defense doesn't know what the rules are. But the government expects this Pfc. to know what the rules are? -- led to acquittal.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:49 AM
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Zero-sum responsibility is the craziest thing I ever heard of.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:55 AM
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The Abu Ghraib prosecutions were also very carefully tailored to avoid incidents where there was a good argument that the soldiers were following orders from military intelligence, I think.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 11:57 AM
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500: Oh, I know a lot of people who think that way. It falls apart when you pick at it much, but it's not a particularly wacky way to see the world.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 12:03 PM
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485: Well, if you look at the period in which the War on Vietnam went its merry way, it wasn't exactly a rose garden either.

That's exactly my point. You don't have to idealize American history to see the singular nature of the current historical moment; far from it. Someone who imagines that those making this point have forgotten the bad old days of Hoover and Tricky Dick is mistaken.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 12:03 PM
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the US got its ass kicked in Vietnam

Not actually the case, but doesn't change the results.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 12:06 PM
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495

"The fact that in the one case the other causative actor is a person with moral responsibility and in the other case it's a bear without moral responsibility shouldn't change the import of Joe's actions, but if you start talking about percentages of moral responsibility it seems as if it has to."

Ok, there are a couple of issues here. First I am dividing responsibility not moral responsibility so I am ok assigning some to the bear. Second we often judge actions based on consequnces. If I shoot a gun at a house it is considered a more serious offence if someone is killed than if no one is injured although in a sense my guilt should be the same.

Consider the case of a machine which will fail to work if parts A and B are defective or if parts C and D are defective. If parts A, B and C are defective it seems reasonable to assign responsibility for the failure to parts A and B but not to C. If on the other hand parts A, C and D are defective then it seems reasonable to assign responsibility to C and D but not to A. So although A is equally defective in both cases in one case it bears some responsibility for the failure of the machine to work and in the other case it doesn't.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 12:55 PM
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Once you're assigning responsibility to animals (inanimate objects? Killer robot?), though, you're drifting pretty far off what I think most people's understanding of 'responsibility' is. You can still think of things that way if you want to, but it's going to obscure rather than clarify communication.

Even in your responsibility as pure causation model, percentages are going to be confusing. A and B simultaneously shoot C. (1) Each shot separately inflicts a certainly fatal wound. How do you divide responsibility? (2) A's shot inflicts a wound such that similar wounds kill 80% of those who suffer them, B's does the same. C dies. How do you divide responsibility?

There's not a neat way of assigning percentages that sum to 100% that's actually going to be informative about the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 1:08 PM
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50,000 dead to accomplish nothing doesn't count as an ass-kicking?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 1:13 PM
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(BTW, I'd like to apologize to Emerson for the might-as-well-be-trolley-problems I've perpetrated here. But the point is the oversimplification.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 1:15 PM
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505: James, there doesn't seem to be any possible way to apply that logic to the case at hand. Do you really see the chicanery of Yoo and the other lawyers as having no causal relationship with the torture? Even after that causal relationship has been described and analogized at length here?

Look, when someone commits torture, that's an offense. When someone enables a torturer, that's also an offense. If you must work with zero sums, then you'll have to grant that the size and number of offenses increase as different people are involved.

In physics terms, this is the Law Of Conservation Of Sin.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 1:15 PM
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506

"Once you're assigning responsibility to animals (inanimate objects? Killer robot?), though, you're drifting pretty far off what I think most people's understanding of 'responsibility' is. You can still think of things that way if you want to, but it's going to obscure rather than clarify communication."

My dictionary gives as one definition of responsible "being the cause or explanation /mechanical defects were ~ for the accident/". This is the sense in which I have been using it.

"Even in your responsibility as pure causation model, percentages are going to be confusing. A and B simultaneously shoot C. (1) Each shot separately inflicts a certainly fatal wound. How do you divide responsibility? (2) A's shot inflicts a wound such that similar wounds kill 80% of those who suffer them, B's does the same. C dies. How do you divide responsibility?"

These cases are easy in that the roles are symmetric so 50-50 is the obvious assignment. The second case would be trickier if the percentages were different and I think you would also have to know the probability of death given both wounds.

People didn't seem to have any problem rank ordering responsibility (A is less responsible than B). Is the problem with quantification (A is 60% as responsible as B) or just with the zero sum part?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:03 PM
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The zero sum part. If in the first symmetrical case I gave, the two shooters don't know about each other, then the presence of the second shooter doesn't change any part of the first shooter's thought process, and doesn't change the result of her actions. She shot, inflicted a fatal wound (and one that would be fatal without any other action), and the victim died. But because someone she was unaware of did something she was unaware of, she's only half responsible for the death, instead of completely responsible for it. That doesn't accord with how responsibility is ordinarily attributed to people -- for example, it would appear insane to reduce her sentence for murder on the grounds that someone else had simultaneously shot the same guy. If you make it clear that a zero-sum assignment of 'responsibility' doesn't have any necessary relationship to moral culpability, you might be able to make it work, but any conversation that didn't make that clear would almost certainly confuse the people you were talking to. (Snidely Whiplash ties Sweet Sue to the railroad tracks. The train is almost 100% responsible for killing her, right? Immobilizing someone doesn't injure them. And yet the moral intuition is to assign all the responsibility to Mr. Whiplash.)

Once you get past that, you're into the (significant) difficulty of actually apportioning causation, but the confusion between causation and personal responsibility, which can't meaningfully be summed to 100% of anything, is the real problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:15 PM
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LB must have a lot of work to do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:18 PM
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Always. Actually getting fired would cause marital strife, so I probably shouldn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:20 PM
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511

"The zero sum part. If in the first symmetrical case I gave, the two shooters don't know about each other, then the presence of the second shooter doesn't change any part of the first shooter's thought process, and doesn't change the result of her actions. She shot, inflicted a fatal wound (and one that would be fatal without any other action), and the victim died. But because someone she was unaware of did something she was unaware of, she's only half responsible for the death, instead of completely responsible for it. That doesn't accord with how responsibility is ordinarily attributed to people -- for example, it would appear insane to reduce her sentence for murder on the grounds that someone else had simultaneously shot the same guy. ..."

I don't entirely agree with this. If for example the second shooter had shot a few minutes earlier and the victim was dead when shot by the first shooter then the first shooter would not be guilty of murder at all although nothing from their point of view had changed (assuming they didn't realize the victim had already been shot).

If many people participate in a murder (as in a lynching) I think this does attenuate the responsibility of each individual participant. I support the death penalty and have no problem with the execution of someone for murder. However I would be uncomfortable with executing 100 people for 1 murder it seems disproportionate to me.

"... If you make it clear that a zero-sum assignment of 'responsibility' doesn't have any necessary relationship to moral culpability, you might be able to make it work, but any conversation that didn't make that clear would almost certainly confuse the people you were talking to. (Snidely Whiplash ties Sweet Sue to the railroad tracks. The train is almost 100% responsible for killing her, right? Immobilizing someone doesn't injure them. And yet the moral intuition is to assign all the responsibility to Mr. Whiplash.)"

No in this case Snidely is 100% responsible as he is planning and intending for Sue to die and has actively placed her in danger. Similarly if he shoots her you don't hold the gun responsible. On the other hand if he ties her up in her house and the train jumps the tracks and kills her then the train has some responsibility.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:42 PM
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No in this case Snidely is 100% responsible as he is planning and intending for Sue to die and has actively placed her in danger.

So, in the hypothetical with Hapless Victim, if Joe Citizen called out "Hey, come in here, you'll be safe", diverting Hapless from another escape route, and then slammed the door in Hapless's face because he hated Hapless and when he saw him fleeing quickly formed a plan intending to bring about Hapless's death, Joe is 100% responsible? How does that leave any responsibility for Ax Murderer? Or is Joe 100% responsible if the cause of death is a bear or robot, but less responsible if the cause of death is human?

It really doesn't work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 3:51 PM
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515

Saying responsibility is zero sum doesn't magically solve all problems of assigning responsibility. The issues you raising here are still issues without a zero sum constraint.

When we wish to identify the causes of an incident we look for out of ordinary factors which led to the event. If sometime happened in a normal and expected way we would not generally consider it a cause. Here we have two abnormal events the ax murderer (or bear or robot) looking for victims and Joe Citizen deciding to assist. They are both contributing factors and share responsibility.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 5:07 PM
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Saying responsibility is zero sum doesn't magically solve all problems of assigning responsibility.

No, it makes them harder to solve.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 7:38 PM
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Way late, but why the reasonable, moderate objections upthread to the idea of standing the Yoos of the world up against the wall? I'm not a death penalty fan and I think due process is a good thing, but the trial and execution of a handful of senior Bush Administration folks strikes me as a hell of a lot more defensible than, say, your average Texas death penalty jurisprudence. Or was Nuremberg purely about victors' justice?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:25 PM
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518

Executing a few senior officials of the previous adminstration does not encourage people to leave office peacefully when they lose an election (or to hold fair elections for that matter).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:56 PM
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519: The point is not to encourage them to leave peacefully. The point is to deter them from being war criminals, and to express humanity's disapproval for crimes against humanity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 9:06 PM
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519: That's a perfectly valid point in some times and places. Less so in the United States c. 2007, where 520 has a lot of force. Not that I think it's going to happen or even that I really think it should happen--although some prison terms would be a very good thing--but the argument should be centered more on 519 vs. 520 than on "Omigod how could we think of shooting a high government official for mere crimes against humanity when they haven't personally killed any white people?"


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 9:25 PM
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wow, John Emerson was right about everything in this thread. I may have to rethink my opposition to the no-relationships policy.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-14-07 8:01 AM
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Relationships lead to torture. We now know this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-14-07 8:06 AM
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